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How to cover for staff with health issues

  • Blog
  • 19 September 2017

If you have staff members with long-term or chronic health conditions, it’s important that you take the appropriate steps to ensure your business can support them when necessary. You should also accommodate any absences which might occur as a result of those conditions.

We explain what you need to keep in mind when covering for staff with health issues.

How to cover for staff with health issues

Flexible shifts

Sometimes, staff members, regardless of their health conditions, will be ill. An illness is also often discovered suddenly, so there should be a quick solution.

This might be a case of delaying any non-priority work. If the absence covers a shift, it could be a case of trying to get another employee in to cover for them. This is why, when it comes to businesses that rely on shifts, it’s important to have records of each staff member’s availability. This could be either in general or on a weekly basis, so you know who to contact to offer overtime, in order to cover for gaps in staffing.

Knowing how long a staff member is likely to be off for also allows you to take steps to cover any other shifts ahead of time, instead of on the day.


With chronic conditions that impact a staff member’s ability to work there is bound to be a level of anxiety. This could involve concern, on their part, about how their condition will potentially prove detrimental to their career.

Understanding and accommodating their needs, in terms of their health, is crucial. This might mean making changes to how certain business processes are carried out, or taking additional steps to accommodate a staff member’s condition.

For example, you might have to make provisions for certain staff if they find lifting and moving items more difficult. Or you might have to provide a dedicated area for storing their medication safely.

This might only be a small change to how your business runs in a day-to-day way. But it could make all the difference in allowing a staff member with a health condition to feel more comfortable at work.

Clear process and communication

You and your staff should have a clear line of communication, if they have an issue related to their health. They should know who to contact if it hinders their ability to work, and processes should be in place to handle this.

For example, if someone is off work due to side effects from their medication, they should know exactly who to contact to inform. You should also be aware that this is something that could happen due to that staff member’s specific condition.

Clear lines of communication can create a better sense of understanding, also helping to make small, but important, changes where necessary.

This not only helps to improve the morale of staff, but also can help to build a better reputation for a business as a good place to work.

How can FSB help you take care of your staff?

Aside from gaining medical help, either privately or via the NHS, having an understanding employer, with access to practical information and emotional support, can help staff considerably when managing a condition.

FSB Business Essentials members have access to the FSB Care service. This service provides members with access to reassurance, support and advice, including:

  • Calls with a specialist nurse
  • Counselling support
  • Complementary therapies
  • Information on supportive charities and self-help
  • Information on treatments and operations

FSB Care covers a range of conditions, including stress and depression, and has no pre-existing health exclusions.

As an FSB member, family or staff members can be added to the service for a one-off flat fee, providing peace of mind that help is available when needed1.

To find out more about how to handle different medical issues, or how FSB care can help support your business when dealing with a medical problem, visit our FSB Care page. FSB Care is included as standard with our Business Essentials package. Please visit our package comparison page to compare benefits of our packages.

1 Excludes external therapy/counselling. This can be facilitated by the Personal Nurse Adviser, but must be paid for by the individual or sponsoring FSB Member.

FSB Care from FSB

FSB members with a serious health condition have free access to a personal nurse adviser - providing practical information and emotional support.

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