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How should principal dentists approach staff sickness?

staff sickness

Following the news that mental health benefits and sick notes will become harder to obtain, Polly Bhambra explains how Treetops Dental approaches staff sickness.


The government recently announced its intention to make changes to benefits and sick note provision for those suffering from mental health problems.


Vouchers for treatment for those with ‘mild mental health conditions’ will replace Personal Independence Payments (PIP).


GPs will also no longer have the ability to provide sick notes to facilitate health-related absence from work.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said this was to target ‘sick note culture’, which he believes is responsible for rising numbers of people on sick leave.


Below Polly Bhambra shares her thoughts on this move.


Staff sickness complications


Sick leave is a critical component of workplace policies, ensuring that employees can recover from illness without worrying about losing their jobs or income.


However, while it plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy workforce, it also introduces several complications for the dental practice, particularly in relation to daily operations, staffing, and financial stability.


One of the most immediate challenges is the disruption of daily clinics.


When employees call in sick, especially unexpectedly, it can result in short-staffed situations, cancelling appointments, which delays patient treatment.


This is particularly problematic in dental care where physical presence is crucial. 


Staffing issues also become prominent, as other team members may need to cover additional duties. This can lead to increased workloads and potential burnout, impacting morale and productivity.


For small practices, the absence of even one employee can significantly hinder treatment lists, emphasising the need for cross-training and flexible staffing strategies.


Financial strain


Financially, providing paid sick leave can strain budgets, especially for smaller dental clinics.


While necessary for ethical employee treatment, the cost implications can be substantial, affecting the overall financial health of a business.


Therefore, while supportive sick leave policies are essential for employee wellbeing, practices must strategically manage these policies to mitigate their impact on operations and finances. 


Some feel mental health is becoming the new whiplash era, taking away from those that are genuinely suffering on a daily basis.


Since COVID-19 it’s become harder to manage for practice managers and principals.


Handling sickness in the workplace effectively is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment, ensuring productivity, and showing care for the wellbeing of employees.


It’s important to make sure communication lines are open. The importance of return to work interviews hold weight as they allow you to ascertain sickness trends and have open conversations about employee wellbeing.


Employees should feel comfortable notifying their managers about their health concerns without fear of repercussions.

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