Poor health is impacting performance of employee

I am genuinely concerned at the poor health of one of my employees. He constantly eats junk food and binge drinks and this is having a negative impact on his attendance. Can I intervene and what assistance should I provide?

In this circumstance it would be appropriate to initially arrange an informal welfare meeting with this employee to discuss the present concerns. This meeting should be in a secure and confidential environment which encourages the employee to open up regarding any issues which may be contributing to his poor health.

The meeting should be approached in the first instance with concerns over welfare and the high levels of absenteeism but with the aim of establishing whether there was anything contributing to the issue outside of work. It may be appropriate during the meeting to discuss the impact of the absence on other employees and the business itself. It’s a good opportunity to refer to the company’s absence policy/triggers, if these are in place, and from there a plan could be put in place to improve the absence levels.

Ultimately, if the employee is unable to recognise the impact of life choices on work performance/attendance then there is only so much support an employer can give unless the employee is willing to help themselves. During this welfare meeting the employee could be encouraged to see their own GP and time could be given/arranged for them to do so in the hope that the GP will discuss the impact on their health and lifestyle changes.

If the employee is unable to seek any outside help or support and there is no indication that they are willing to help themselves, then a more formal approach to the attendance levels should be considered which may take the form of an informal written warning to advise that improvement is required and explaining the consequences of levels not improving. This approach, although sometimes considered difficult, may be the warning to the employee that they must take on any support or make life style changes to avoid any consequences on their employment.

If the employee does open up during the meeting and there are concerns that either an underlying health condition or factors outside of work are impacting upon attendance then these should be addressed accordingly. Again the allowance of the employee to attend medical appointments to get support may be a benefit, as well as discussing any workplace support/adjustments that could be put in place.

It may be appropriate for an Occupational Health appointment to be arranged if there is a diagnosed medical condition which is impacting on work performance. This can provide advice and guidance on fitness to work and support/adjustments which can be considered to support your employee.

This Q&A was answered by David Price, managing director of Health Assured.

Further reading on employee wellbeing

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of smallbusiness.co.uk) before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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