Friday, 10th September was Suicide Awareness Day. By coincidence I ended up having the same conversation twice with two different organisations. In both cases, the employer had an employee who was on long term sick and where a pattern of contact with the employer had been established but they felt that something had changed. The lack of contact they were now experiencing was out character from the employee. In one case the employee had shared that they were having negative thoughts and in the other the employer was just concerned.
In such a case where efforts to speak with the employee are not fruitful, if you have any concerns then I recommend you act on them rather than ignore them. Our intuition is there for a reason.
The first port of call might be the next of kin that the individual has left with you. You don’t need to get into discussing any details about the employee or their absence, their health or anything like that: you can just remind the next of kin that they have been appointed by the employee as the next of kin and that you are worried about the employee because there has been a change in behaviour – are they okay? This is likely to prompt the next of kin to say that they will check.
The second port of call might be the GP. If you have the employee’s GP details which you are likely to do from the fit notes that they will have been submitting, you could contact the practice explaining that you have concerns and this is likely to trigger the practice then checking up on the individual. The GP will not be able to discuss anything about the individual with you but they will note if you are saying there is out of character behaviour and the fact that you have bothered to take the time to call.
Clearly you might be barking up the wrong tree entirely but for the sake of a phone call or two, if you are in any doubt, it is better than regretting not having raised a concern if there is something to worry about.
Refreshing Law Ltd
12 September 2021