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’tis the season to be sneezy

The festive period is the worst time of year for employees to get sick. When ‘all you want for Christmas’ is a box of tissues, some paracetamol and a mug of lemon and honey (try it!), you’ll realise how frustrating illnesses are. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that most staff will pick up at least a sniffle. With the kids bringing home playground germs, chilly winter weather and December being a particularly boozy month, our immune systems are working overtime! 

For employees particularly, coming down with the flu whilst taking annual leave can be especially frustrating. Those plans to paint the bedroom, go see family and friends, or even head off for a break abroad, cancelled – in favour of duvet days. In this instance, you may be greeted upon their return by an employee more frustrated from their annual leave than relaxed, recuperated and ready to work.

If you’re approached by an employee to whom this has happened, what do you do? The ECJ has in the past ruled in favour of staff claiming more holiday to make up for days used whilst incapacitated. Interestingly, if a worker falls sick towards the end of the year and are yet to use up their remaining annual leave, they are also entitled to carry it through to the next year, thanks to previous European rulings. Give The HR Dept a call, we’ll tell you what you can do specifically. Each case will be different.

Sickness absences hit employers especially hard around the festive period. With such concentrated holiday bookings over Christmas and the New Year, human resources are already being stretched. Good management of annual leave entitlements will consider the impact of potential sickness absence and help ensure your business has appropriate cover.  In industries that experience a boost in business at this time of year, temporary staff are key in managing increases in demand. Training them to perform a variety of roles will help to keep things running smoothly should one employee go off sick.

Remember, employees on sickness absence aren’t always stricken with coughs and sneezes. Christmas and the New Year are times to get the family together, to celebrate the year whilst giving and receiving presents. But it isn’t without its pressures. Staff may find money is tight, they may experience family arguments (January is the busiest month for divorce lawyers!), some may find certain times of year more difficult after the loss of somebody close. Most can vouch for some reason or other that it’s a stressful time of year.

Our Employee Assistance Program is set up to help your staff cope with the juggling act of life by offering them confidential and independent advice and support – delivered by professionals. Resolving your employee’s concerns will minimise any impact or potential effect on their performance. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

The HR Dept is on-hand to prevent people problems throughout the festive period.