How to improve communications with unwell staff members without breaking the law

Sometimes, if an employee has gone off sick and you don’t have a plan in place for these kinds of situations, you may need to get in contact with them.

It’s normally bad practice to contact unwell staff members, but sometimes it’s necessary—especially when they’re off for a long period of time or an unknown amount of time.

Here’s how you can improve your communications with unwell members of staff without breaking the law.

Regular check-ins

As a manager, you have a duty of care over your employees, even when they’re off sick, to make sure that they’re OK and reach out if necessary.

If your employee has been off sick for a longer period of time, it’s a good idea to check in with them regularly to see how they are doing. The contact should not be intrusive and should come from a place of genuine empathy rather than worrying about your business.

Only communicate urgent work matters

Ask yourself, if you were off sick, would you want to be called by your employees about work matters? Probably not.

If an employee is off sick, you should only contact them about work if it’s absolutely essential. For example, if you’ve got an important meeting scheduled and they’re the only one with access to the slide deck. In this case, it’s reasonable to contact them to ask them to share the slides.

However, in most situations, you’ll find that other employees will be able to pick up their tasks without too much disruption.

Don’t put pressure on them to return to work

As I said, no one wants to be bombarded by calls from their boss while they’re off sick as this can often put unnecessary pressure on them to return to work quickly.

If you’re in contact with your employee, make it clear that there’s no rush to return to work and that they should take as much time off as they need.

Discuss how they would like to be contacted

Every employee is different and likes to be contacted in different ways, so discuss this with them.

This mainly applies when a staff member is off for a prolonged period of time where you don’t want them to feel like they’ve been forgotten about. Ask them if they want you to check in with them once a week, once a month etc. by phone call, email or text.

Put in place methods of communication that work for them and put them at ease. Making sure to strike the balance of showing support, without piling on the pressure.

Written by
Scott Dylan
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Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

I’m Scott Dylan, Inc & Co Co-Founder. I oversee the company's strategic direction and work to acquire and invest in distressed and viable companies, helping businesses improve their business processes and setting strategic directions.


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