staff leave

What on earth is ‘presenteeism’?

Certainly, when managing business, we take into account the impact of paid staff leave from both a financial and productivity point of view. We know the cost to the bottom line, how to manage the workload as our workers take their owed annual leave, how to pick up the slack quickly if someone is unexpectedly off sick, and we have the tools in place to properly track and monitor leave days. But have you thought about the impact of presenteeism? And, more, how to best manage it when it starts to happen?

 

While researching this blog, we actually found a lot of evidence (data mainly from USA) to suggest that presenteeism can have a larger impact on the operational and financial health of a business in comparison to sick leave – which is largely already taken in consideration by most businesses. Ok, so what are these two?

 

Absenteeism is when your workers are not actually in the workplace due to illness, planned leave, family emergencies, or other unplanned events like jury duty. It can become an issue to a business when the number of absent days exceeds what a business has allowed for as reasonable.

 

Presenteeism is when your workers still come to the workplace – only they are not actually working but are rather there in ‘presence’ only. In this case, workers could be ill, lacking motivation, overworked, etc.

 

So, what can you do about presenteeism to avoid this huge and, well, unaccounted for, impact to your business? Here are a few of suggestions – and no surprise – they are all related to ensuring you support the maintenance of a safe, happy and healthy workplace!

 

  1. Encourage your workers to maintain their health!

Suggest flu shots in winter, promote good hand hygiene (put some posters up in those bathrooms), send your workers home when they are showing signs of cold or flu, get a fruit box and support healthy eating, etc. Essentially, the healthier your staff, the better for everyone!

 

  1. Check in with your workers about their workload often.

Don’t expect your staff to always come forward when they are overworked and stressed. Also, don’t expect them to come forward if they feel underworked or believe they have more capacity. Try to actively start that conversation and encourage your managers and team leads to do the same. Motivate your workers. Help them to understand what the right balance is. After all, it is useless to overload a worker when this will actually have the opposite effect, demotivating them to do anything at all.

 

  1. Look out for the signs of poor mental or physical health.

This is tricky, but presenteeism can be common for people with health issues that are not overly visible to an employer, such as depression, anxiety or chronic pain issues and disease. So, this is about maintaining good and open communication with your workers, and trying to determine a way that will better support your staff if these kinds of health issues are present. Things like allowing your workers to work from home might assist or guiding them towards getting proper help.

 

So, there are just a few ideas from us. But really, the best way to manage presenteeism, and absenteeism for that matter, is good communication with your workers and maintaining a happy, healthy and safe workplace for all.

 

What about the secondary caregiver’s health and safety?

In March this year, Australian dot com giant REA Group announced a pretty amazing parental leave policy. It not only supports parents regardless of their gender but the benefits extend beyond the primary care giver, to the secondary caregiver. Primaries receives six months’ paid parental leave at full pay, while the secondary carer receives three month’s paid leave. This got us thinking a bit about the role of the secondary carer when that newborn does arrive…

 

Typically in Australia, maternity leave is far more likely to be offered to employees than paternity leave for most businesses. Many businesses don’t offer gender-neutral policies nor much of a consideration at all for the secondary caregiver. You might be lucky to get two weeks. However, there is some evidence to suggest that we should be considering the role of the secondary carer – who is at this stage quite often a man – when considering the health and safety of our employees.

 

According to a study from Southern Cross University in collaboration with Griffith University, working fathers with new babies actually experience cumulative fatigue that may pose increased risks in the workplace.

 

The study was undertaken using a survey completed by 241 fathers mostly living on the Gold Coast in Australia. It found that fathers experience increased fatigue during early fatherhood and that this fatigue was related to a decrease in safety behaviour at work. Compared to other men, men with babies less than 12 weeks old were:

 

  • 36% more likely to have a near miss at work, and
  • 26% more likely to have a near miss on the road to and from work.

 

“The results paint a disturbing picture of fathers with babies undergoing worsening fatigue over the first 12 weeks of their baby’s life, unrelieved by poor and interrupted sleep and with potential consequences to their work safety.” – Southern Cross University School of Health and Human Services, senior lecturer Gary Mellor.

 

A core consideration to come out of this research is the concept of rethinking parental leave in general. While secondary carers typically do take time off during a child’s birth, the crucial period for rest and recuperation may come later than the initial two weeks.

 

Have you considered, or should you consider?

  • Providing parental leave for the secondary caregiver later in the baby’s life, rather than just the first two weeks.
  • Providing the secondary caregiver with the opportunity to take a long weekend or two over the first three months of the birth.
  • Modifying their work environment to ensure fatigued new parents are not doing higher risk jobs.
  • Communicating flexible work practices to parents over this period.
  • Consider following suit with REA Group – it is the way of the future after all and the key to keeping great people around.

 

 

Our OHS Software can help your business delegate safety responsibilities to other workers when your people take leave, like parental leave. Contact us today to see how or read more about other considerations with your staff who are expecting here.

 

Six reasons why managers are introducing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software to their business

There are a lot of benefits that can be gained from purchasing, commissioning and implementing a cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System.

Below are the six (6) recurring views that business owners have raised with us when discussing how OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software has improved their business’ health and safety performance.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me real-time visibility of the implementation of our Safety Management System. It is often difficult for managers to ‘hand on heart’ know the exact status of their health and safety procedures at any one point in time. It can be difficult to keep track of: (i) what has been completed; (ii) what is in the process of being completed; and (iii) what is overdue, at their workplace. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software provides a live overview of all of this.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes it so easy for us to implement our Safety Management System. Workers no longer have to waste time second-guessing themselves, using complicated spreadsheets, or handling messy paper files. With OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software everything that needs to be done is presented in a simple dashboard overview. Emails are automatically generated and sent to the safety administrators as each task deadline approaches. Once ‘signed-off’, the health and safety record is saved and filed automatically. And then system then lines up the next task for you. Easy.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes my health and safety reporting more accurate and consistent than before. Spreadsheets can be tricky things to manage. Multiple users, manual data entry or extraction, and poor user skills can result in errors and inconsistencies in the data set, and the subsequent reports. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software reduces the ‘human element’ and helps to ensure you have access to more accurate and consistent reporting. This means that you can make better-informed and more appropriate decisions that positively impact your operations.

 

What you need to consider when creating a safety management system for your workplace.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software helps me maintain safety management even when workers are on leave or they have left the business. Having ‘the person’ who coordinates ‘the safety’ in a workplace can be great. Well, for as long as they are in the workplace. But if ‘the person’ is suddenly on leave or has moved on, everything can come to a standstill. Especially if they were managing things in their personal diary or in personal computer files. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software solves this problem. Everything is kept in a consistent way and in one spot. And tasks can be transferred from one worker to another, meaning safety management can continue as planned even when ‘the safety person’ leaves.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows us to communicate better and act faster. Providing workers with access to online incident reporting and online hazard reporting means that workers can let their workplace know instantly if an issue arises. Paper report forms can be fine, but the delays in first finding the right form, completing the report, and ensuring it is reviewed by the right person means that businesses are not able to act as fast as they could or should. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows communication to flow more seamlessly between workers and managers so that positive action can be taken, fast.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me easy access to the documentation I need. Typically, Health and Safety Manuals, Operating Procedures or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are stored in places that are not always useful or logical for workers or managers. They might be stored in multiple locations, on intranets, in folders, in the meal room, anywhere. But OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software stores Safety Management System documentation in the cloud so that it can be easily accessed online. Anywhere and anytime. In the workplace or on the road. As you need.

 

This overview outlines just some of the common ‘good news stories’ that business owners and managers have shared with us about the positive impact of their OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System. But there are likely to be many more benefits.

If you are thinking about how an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System could help you better manage the health and safety of your workplace, please contact us. We’d love to help.

 

Want to know more about OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software? Have read through our blog outlining some of the common misconceptions about what OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software actually does for your business: Six things you should be aware of before implementing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software.

What are your responsibilities for your pregnant workers?

A lot of employers get confused about exactly what their responsibilities are with their pregnant workers. How close to the birth do they go on maternity leave? Are they entitled to more leave for attending doctor’s appointments? Can their existing role be too dangerous for them now that they are pregnant? We’ll try to clear the air a little…

 

Employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their employees that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably possible. Of course, this also applies to your employees who are pregnant. But what a lot of employers don’t realise is that their ‘change of condition’ can also mean in some cases that there must be changes in the conditions of their working environment.

 

Possible risks for pregnant workers in the workplace

Here’s an indication of some of the more common activities and conditions in a work environment that are potentially hazardous to pregnant women:

 

  • Excessive noise (above the noise exposure standard) – Whilst the mother can wear hearing protection, her unborn baby cannot. Excessive noise can damage the developing ears of a baby in utero.
  • Manual handling – Heavy lifting and awkward postures during pregnancy can result in physical complications (abdominal separation, torn muscles or ligaments) or increased risk of falls due to the change in centre of gravity and balance.
  • Standing for long periods – Risk of thrombosis (blood clotting) and varicose veins increases for pregnant women standing for long periods – along with risk of fainting, especially in a hot environment.
  • Working with screen-based computer equipment – Physical changes that occur during pregnancy will mean that adjustments to workstation setup may be required over the course of the pregnancy to reduce stress placed on the lower back.
  • Lead and lead compounds – Lead poisoning is caused by breathing or swallowing lead. Lead can pass from a mother to her unborn baby and increase the risk for miscarriage, cause the baby to be born too early or too small, or result in learning or behavioural problems for the child.
  • Chemicals – Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will note details about each chemical and whether it is a health risk to pregnant workers.
  • Fumes (particularly chemical) – Fumes can make a pregnant woman feel ill, in addition to potentially affecting the development of her unborn child.
  • Shocks and vibration – Regular exposure to shocks, low frequency vibration or excessive movement may increase the risk of a miscarriage. Examples would be driving or riding in off-road vehicles or earth moving equipment.

Whilst some of these hazards won’t be a concern pre-pregnancy; pregnancy does change this. To manage the health and safety hazard exposures associated with pregnancy, the workplace should consult with the pregnant worker to ensure their pregnancy is effectively managed. To support the conversation, you may wish to invite comment from the workers doctor.

 

Working up until the date of birth

Pregnant workers may work right up until the expected date of birth of their child. However, under the National Employment Standards (NES), if a worker wishes to work in the last six weeks of their pregnancy they must provide you, their employer, with a medical certificate stating that they are fit to work, if asked. It is good to keep this in mind, in case you are concerned about their health and ability to perform their role in the last 6 weeks.

If the medical certificate is not provided within seven days, or if the certificate says that the employee is not fit for work, you may request your employee to take personal leave, such as sick leave, or start unpaid parental leave as soon as possible.

 

Additional time off for antenatal appointments

Employees are not entitled to additional time off work for pregnancy-related appointments by law. However, many workplaces remain quite flexible in this regard and allow their pregnant employees to make doctors appointments during the working day, as they need. It is just a matter of open discussion, ensuring that workloads remain well-managed and the pregnant employees health remains well-managed!

 

 

Implementing our OHS Software solution helps you to plan and manage necessary health and safety duties even when your employees go on leave… like maternity leave. Contact us to discuss how our software can help today.