Employers should keep in touch with their staff when they are off sick to support a quicker and easier return to work, experts say.
The approach was heralded by a leading doctor and a prominent employment lawyer.
Speaking at a Jelf employment seminar, EEF chief medical adviser Professor Sayeed Khan encouraged organisations to remain in contact with their staff, even if they have been absent for some time.
He noted that doing so could help with rehabilitation and providing a progressive return to work.
"Things like maintaining contact is really important," Prof Khan said.
"People who say they feel harassed and if you ring them up and say ‘don't ring me up again' - that's rubbish. You're entitled to ring up, it's in the policy and you should ring up.
"And actually the vast majority of people are grateful. If you feel unwell and you're off sick and somebody asks ‘how are you doing?' - its nice isn't it. So maintaining contact is important," he added.
Penningtons solicitors associate director Tim Randles echoed this view and added that employers should back themselves up by including this provision in their contracts.
"Most of you have sickness management policies. Hopefully it deals with keeping in touch. You're not meant to ignore them," he said.
"A sicknote is not a reason for never talking to that employee ever again, particularly if they are stressed. We've actually had to legislate for keeping-in-touch days. You should be keeping in touch.
"Somebody who's seriously ill is going to wonder why you're not keeping in touch - have you forgotten them?" he added.
Randles noted that introducing a policy in this area could be very straight forward.
"Lots of people, particularly the very stressed, will say you're harassing them, but you need reasonable contact and that should be on a reasonably regular basis.
"It might be on the arrival of a new fit note. You might want to have a chat, you might even want to have a visit to talk about things that are going to happen in the future.
"I think it's a very simple thing, it should be in all your policies," he concluded.
Thursday 12 March
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