It was encouraging to read a feature in this month's Economia about the individual experiences of some finance professionals returning to work after a period of long term illness.
Although all the interviewees spoke candidly about feeling daunted and anxious about resuming work, all three also reported that their employers had gone beyond the call of duty in providing the support they needed as well as enhanced sickness pay while they were off.
Yet it was also acknowledged that they are the lucky ones. While not everyone is fortunate enough to work for a firm with the resources of PwC, a leader in inclusion, many people’s treatment on their return to work after a long period of sickness absence is woefully inadequate.
While there are legal obligations, the feature serves as reminder that employers have a moral duty to do all that they can to ease an employer back into work after a period of physical or mental illness and where possible to go beyond the legal requirements.
The piece also serves as a warning to those that pay lip service to the notion. While returning employees who are treated poorly are probably not going talk to the press, their treatment is unlikely to go unnoticed by colleagues, clients and other stakeholders and in order to thrive, a business must be seen to be doing the right thing.
Altered states From Comic Relief to local practitioners, we talk to finance professionals about the difficulties of returning to work after an extended absence for illness, and their advice for others Caption: Image: Getty Images Mark Wildig, director of finance at Comic Relief, says: “My first day back was daunting – like all the first days I had ever experienced and their cumulative anxieties rolled into one, with a dose of how I imagine re-entering from space might feel. I was nervous, stressed and full of self-doubt – could I do still do my job? Could I have ‘normal’ conversations? Could I even make it through the day? My employer was brilliant, but I was still racked with anxiety. I felt so exposed and raw and delicate.”