CWU calls for support for staff off sick during lockdown
As life begins to return to normal a trade union is calling on employers to be more supportive of people who have had sick time during the pandemic.
CWU officer Mark Elwen, who represents members around Yorkshire explained: “During the pandemic many employers discounted Covid-related absences in regards to triggers for warnings, which of course we welcomed. What we are finding though is that many people are now being disciplined for other sick absences that are not Covid but, nonetheless, have been caused directly because of the pandemic and lockdowns.
“Many people have suffered from anxiety, stress and other mental health problems, and those already with mental and physical health conditions have found those to be exacerbated by the effects of lockdown. Working from home many people have felt isolated and lonely; the support structures they did have were removed.
“Others have had to juggle with children at home, working from home, family members or themselves isolating or shielding. People with existing medical conditions or who have developed new ones have not been able to see GPs or attend hospital appointments. In short, the effects of lockdown have been devastating for the health of many people through no fault of their own.”
No punitive sanctions
The CWU is calling on employers to recognise the fact that for many employees their sickness absences will have gone up during the pandemic due the extreme situation, but employers should not be quick to issue warnings and give punitive sanctions. Rather they should be supportive and, if special exemptions could be made for Covid-related absences, the same should be done for other absences caused or lengthened by the measures imposed on people to combat it.
“We want employers to be supportive, not punitive,” said Mark. “This is not a time for warnings or sanctions. These were exceptional times. Many companies have struggled during the pandemic, they have asked their customers and clients to be patient and supportive, they have had support from the government in the guise of furlough and, in many instances, from their own employees working during a difficult time.
“In turn employers now need to show the same support and patience for all their employees who have suffered, and still are suffering.”
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