NHS Help for Small Business

Free help to deal with the impact of employee ill health on your business

If you are a small business owner or manager, you will know the effect that employee ill health can have on productivity and staff morale. Without the knowledge or the resources to deal with what can be complex physical conditions or mental health problems such as stress and depression, where do you turn to for help?

The free NHS PlusHealth for Work Adviceline’ for small businesses (0800 0 77 88 44) gives you direct access to advice from occupational specialist practitioners about any health-related problem experienced by one of your employees that is causing you concern.

As an example, an employer recently called the adviceline about an employee who had shown signs of mental stress in the workplace over a period of months. The employee did not wish to reveal the reason for her distress, and despite a supportive attitude from the employer and colleagues, her frequent absences from work and obvious unhappiness were now impacting on her work performance.

The employer, who wishes her name to remain confidential due to the sensitive nature of the problem involved, says,

“There’s masses of information out there, but as a small business, I did not have the time to try and find a solution that I could implement quickly, efficiently and within a legal context. When I input ‘stress at work’ into the search engine it was a relief to discover that there was a free helpline dealing specifically with the individual concerns of small businesses like mine.”

“I spoke to an experienced occupational nurse who was incredibly easy to talk to and whose advice was easy to follow and implement. She gave me an easy to follow action plan, providing me with a concise list of issues to consider and possible ways of resolving them, such as arranging an informal meeting in a neutral location.”

“I was also given information on the necessary procedures I had to undertake in order to fulfil my obligations as an employer. These included a stress risk assessment and I was directed to the exact pages on relevant organisations’ websites where I could download the correct form for this and other documents such as a formatted GP referral letter. After the call, a useful follow-up report and contact details for further advice was sent to me.”

The employer was told that if the situation developed into a capability issue, then workplace adjustments could be made, including the assignment of support ‘buddies’, counselling options, and setting of goals such as a 12-week review, while maintaining regular lines of communication.

“To just be able to talk directly to someone with professional expertise was wonderful. I now have the confidence I need to go ahead and help our employee,” the employer said.

For more information see the NHS PlusHealth for Work Adviceline’ for small businesses (0800 0 77 88 44).

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