Best Practices for Managing an Employee Leave

Shawnee Love   •   February 13, 2024

When someone is ill or injured and can’t work, there are things managers can and should do which are good for the employee and good for business.

First is communicate. Reach out regularly, establish a cadence when the employee can expect to hear from you. While you don’t want to isolate the employee off work, having a single point of contact from the company with respect to the leave management is helpful to ensure employee and employer are fully in the loop.

Next is set expectations. Explain the processes for being on a leave and how to return. Also go over what benefits and support are available to the employee (and how to access them), as well as the costs and pay coming to the employee. For example, if the employee has sick time, or disability benefits, or is expected to pay their share of benefits while on leave, this information is important for the employee to know so they can manage their money while off work. It is good practice to put all this information in writing after you talk about it so the employee knows what to expect, so it is a good opportunity to explain how vacation, RRSPs sick pay, and benefits continuance are handled.

Further, have a conversation with the employee to find out their wishes with respect to letting coworkers know. Some will be in touch already, but if not, employees will want to know how their friend is and when to expect them back. This is personal information, so I like to ask the employee off work what they want us to say. If they want to be left alone, that’s important to know as well so you can get ahead of questions.

Last, but perhaps most important, is show you care. Research shows, the longer someone is off work, the harder it is for them to return. By staying in touch, and showing you genuinely care (from the questions you ask and taking the time to listen, you can greatly increase the likelihood that the employee will not only be able to return but want to. Inviting the employee’s health practitioner(s) and/or WorkSafeBC (in the event of a work-related injury/ illness) into the conversation and ensuring all are focused on the same goal (health and safe return to work as soon as possible for the employee) further supports this caring approach.

That’s our 4 top tips for managing any type of leave. If you have specific questions, we are here to help.