Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It makes you sick...

I have today been compared to one of my favourite TV characters for reporting a decision of our Branch Convenors Committee not to panic about "swine 'flu'".

Having spent the afternoon defending a UNISON member facing dismissal under the sickness procedure I cannot help feeling that, beyond the advice on basic hygiene and common sense which is all that can really be said about a 'flu' pandemic, there is an issue in relation to absence management which the trade unions need to pick up on.

Since one of the KPIs on which our local government employers are measured relates to levels of sickness absence there is constant pressure to reduce this. However, rather than focus on the progressive means to reduce sickness absence - by focusing on employee wellbeing and prevention of ill health - many managers are trained to prefer a punitive approach.

With the Government encouraging people to stay away from work if they think they have "swine 'flu'" we need to be pressing employers not to take such absence into account against employees facing action under sickness or absence management procedures. We don't want people coming into work ill because they are afraid their absence is being monitored and that they could face dismissal for sickness.

Any readers of this blog at LGE - please take note!

4 comments:

H said...

Noted...

Anonymous said...

I believe that Personnel today had an article on a proposal from the Department of health to extend the self cert period to 14 days for cases of swine flu. Of course if you can't see your GP and it has the potential for lasting for up to 2 weeks you will spend all that in quarantine.

Whilst it is appropriate not to panic, now is the time to be discussing with our employers how we provide public services with potentially a quarter of the workforce being sick at the peak of infection.

nickvenedi said...

Jon

I don't agree that you should be compared with captain whatsit name I would have thought Rody, Dell boy's brother in only fouls and horses would be more accurate...

Nick

Anonymous said...

Good points in your post Jon. One issue that is coming up in the NHS is the pressure that swine flu related work is exerting on staff. There is an expectation that we will be able to do this work and still do our day jobs.

In our trust we are being asked to work extra hours but there seems to be no awareness of the impact on employee health. I overhead an employee saying that she was going to work two 8 hour shifts back-to-back! People are also under pressure not to take lunch breaks.

I'm a bit disappointed that UNISON hasn't picked up on this issue yet.

Cameron
UNISON member