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There are many aspects that can make this process seem daunting. Budget, time and productivity pressures can make it difficult, however learning to manage an employee returning to work after any reason for being absent (death, relationship breakdown, maternity/paternity leave, mental health, extensive carers leave etc.) has many positive benefits.
While it might take up some extra time in the early stages, getting a valued employee back to work can save your business both time and money in the long run. Laying the foundations for strong relationships between an employer and a returning employee is likely to play a key role in successful return to work.
Employees with carer’s responsibilities; a balancing act!
Employees responsibilities are a growing theme for many employees. The need for emergency care and a sudden change to the living arrangements for the elderly parents of employees can occur unexpectedly. Examples can include the sudden deterioration of the health of a parent or mishaps such as falls and breaking bones. Sometimes, one parent is already taking care of the other parent and the main carer may no longer be able to take care of their partner.
Finding our elders/parent/s unable to care for themselves and needing the specialist care of medical staff, aged care facilities or the regular assistance of care workers in the home is a big change to say the least! These issues are even further exacerbated in the current pandemic situation. Employees needing to ‘drop everything’ and deal with their parent’s change of situation and health can be very stressful and time-consuming. For employers there is concern for their staff member and their family situation, as well as taking care of business.
While every situation will be unique with its own story and particular set of family complications, it is beneficial for organisations to be mindful that these situations can occur. Be aware that the assistance of the employer will be important to helping their employee to manage through their issues and this will help get their family situation on track and help the employee to return to work as stress-free as possible.
These tips could be helpful for you and your employees:
Encourage your employee/s to get all the information they need about the current situation. Information can help people take control of the things that they can control including how they respond to a situation. When we lack information, we may imagine the worst or feel helpless and not make the ‘right’ decisions. Encourage your staff member to get the information they need for their situation such as medical information about their parent’s illness or accident and what to expect as a result of this, information about respite care and respite care rules, aged care facilities, costs, financial assistance and also care agencies that can provide in home help.
2. Flexible Working Hours
Time off by access to their Personal/ Carers Leave entitlements will be needed in the first instance of any emergency. In the following days and weeks, offering flexibility with working hours where possible will be helpful for employees and could help with a variety of things including:
– The need to visit parent/s on a daily basis, particularly in the early stages of a situation;
– Meetings/appointments with medical or care staff about their parent’s situation;
– Visiting aged care facilities for a respite care solution or long term aged care solution;
– Meeting with care providers and making arrangements for in house care on a regular basis;
– Dealing with urgent financial and legal matters that may arise as a result of the situation.
3. Employee Assistance Program
Remember to offer your Employee Assistance Program counselling service to your staff member. If you don’t have a program like this, you could encourage them to seek counselling or discuss this with their family doctor. It is very important for the employee to consider their own health during these times.
4. Checking in
During the initial stages of emergency and the following days and weeks it is good to just check in with your employee occasionally even when they are back to their normal working hours and ask your employee how things are going. Try to empathise and support them through their unique situation. Your reassurance can put your employee at ease and keeps them connected to their workplace.
5. Contingency plans for the Employer
Having a contingency plan for these scenarios does not need to be complicated. Take some time in a meeting with your leadership team to brainstorm a contingency plan for covering emergency absences for different levels of employees. Options can include scenarios for reorganising work, obtaining casual staff, using emergency succession planning options or giving employees development opportunities to step up (higher duties) temporarily. Should the time arise when you need to invoke your plan, regardless of the nature of the employee absence, you will be ready to support your employee and your clients.
6. Do you need help?
These are complex and often confronting issues for employees and employers alike, if you would like to discuss with one our consultants how you could either establish a policy or just deal with a specific issue please contact us (02) 8624 3300.