The GBC requires clear, fair and transparent policies that support and encourage employee well-being and ban unreasonable penalties for legitimate sickness.
What it is
This component recognises that the physical and mental well-being of people really matters and that a responsible business will support and encourage this. There is an important distinction between employees that are abusing a sickness policy and those who are genuinely unwell and need support.
A company is employing people to do a job and if they are unable to do their job due to ill-health, a company is able to dismiss an employee. This becomes particularly pertinent when there is long-term sickness and the GBC recognises that dismissal may be necessary. However, there are strict procedures that an employer needs to follow before it can dismiss someone on the grounds of ill health. The GBC has chosen this component in recognition of the fact that some organisations do not take such measures and use the threat of losing employment to penalise legitimate sickness, both physical and mental.
Why it matters
People cannot control when they are unwell and proper procedures should be taken as part of care of employees in line with their contracts.
It is an employer’s duty to manage health in the workplace.
Before dismissal becomes an option, we expect a company to discuss ways of minimising the impact of an employee’s absence on the organisation and whether there are any ways to help the employee manage their health better.
If the absences are because of a disability, the company must make any reasonable adjustments to help the employee return to work. This could include more flexible working arrangements, part-time working, giving some of their duties to someone else and moving them to a less strenuous post (all with the employee’s consent). No one should be doing their job fearful of becoming unwell nor feel forced to come to work even if unwell.
To receive Good Business Charter accreditation, businesses will be asked the following two questions:
1. Do you currently have or commit to have clear, fair and transparent policies that support and encourage employee well-being including a sickness policy which clearly outlines both employee and employer responsibilities and bans unreasonable penalties for legitimate sickness?
2. Do you currently promote or commit going forwards to promote access to impartial support and advice for employees with physical and mental health needs?
By unreasonable penalties we are referring to situations like those documented in the book ‘Hired’ by James Bloodworth where employees are scared to be unwell because they have a small, limited number of sickness days before they are fired. We are not referring to reasonable discussions/decisions that may be necessary as part of managing staff sickness in a company.
If you are concerned that you will not be able to answer these questions but believe that your business or charity practices follow the spirit of this component, please consult with us so that we can make a judgement on whether we believe you meet the requirements of the component. We are really keen to have organisations of all sizes and from all types of industries and sectors joining the Good Business Charter. These are standard questions and for some organisations there may be questions that are just not relevant or too onerous. We want to hear from you if you feel that is the case and we will take a sympathetic view.
Equally, companies with a smaller number of employees may feel that the wording of the questions is rather technical for the way they operate. We do not want to exclude anyone behaving responsibly just because they feel this has not been designed with their organisation’s size or industry in mind. We encourage you to apply the questions to your own unique setting and if in doubt, do contact us to explain the way in which you believe in your own way that you meet this component so that together we can consider whether it is sufficient or what else may be necessary to receive GBC accreditation.
Good Business Charter
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