Published On: Mon, Jul 29th, 2019

A balanced approach

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

Medwork Corporate Health Solutions is a provider of occupational health services. For employers who contract these services, Medwork is the first stop for employees who are unfit to work due to illness. Medwork takes people’s house doctors out of the equation and that changes the position of employees dramatically.

I cannot say this for every general practitioner in St. Maarten, but I do know that there are at least some doctors who are prepared to declare their healthiest patients unfit for work upon request. With Medwork that is obviously not going to fly. The company is paid by the employer and its task is to assess whether an employee is really unfit for work.

In my opinion, this is a step in the right direction. Reporting ill while you are healthy is not my idea of doing the honorable thing.

Performance-driven companies have a tendency to go even further in their efforts to drive down absenteeism. One company I worked for as an external writer in the past, developed a strategy whereby co-workers were asked to call their absent colleagues and ask them how they were doing, thereby stressing that their absence put undue pressure on those who did turn up for work.

There is of course a limit to the amount of pressure an employer can put on employees to show up for work. Maybe more important is that employers should take a serious interest in the well-being of their employees. An unhappy worker is an unproductive – and at times a counter-productive – employee.

I think that this is where providers of occupational health services are able to play a role that is beneficial to both parties, because they are trained to look into the reason why an employee is unfit to work.

It is not always the flu or a migraine. It could also be due to conditions at work, the behavior of colleagues, work-overload – you name it. Small changes could at times bring about great results.

Employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment. Companies should also have clearly established house rules. That way, employees know what is expected of them, also in case of illness or other circumstances that prevent them from coming to work.

Occupational health services providers can help employers and employees in situations where things don’t work out. A condition is that they opt for a balanced approach that does justice to the interests of both parties.

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