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ABSENTEEISM/WORKCOVER

MANAGEMENT PROJECT

REPORT

Completed for the Office of Training and Tertiary Education by

Kangan Batman Institute of TAFE

March 2005
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CONTENTS

Section Page Number

Introduction 3&4

Steering Committee 4

STAGE 1 – Data Review & Development of Model/Process 5 to 9

Summary of Major Pieces of Data Collected and Reviewed 5

Visits to Other TAFE Institutes and Industry 5

Purpose and Philosophy of the Model/Process 6

Principles/Characteristics 7

Responsibility/Accountability 8&9

The Model/Process 9

STAGE 2 – Piloting of the Model/Process 10

STAGE 3 – Evaluation of the Pilot 11 & 12

Conclusions 12

Training Resources 13

Attachments

1. “A Case Management Approach to the Rehabilitation of Ill or Injured Employees”

2. Power Point Presentation for Managers

3. Power Point Presentation for Staff

4. Implementation Process
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INTRODUCTION

Kangan Batman Institute of TAFE was funded by OTTE to develop an OH&S management
excellence model/process specifically tailored to meet the needs of TAFE Institutes as part of
the HR Initiatives Program.

The project relates to the Ministerial Statement on Knowledge & Skills for the Innovation
Economy, June 2002, which focussed on the following key themes for transforming the TAFE
Workforce:
• Building Skills
• Raising Professional Standards
• Managing the Workforce Strategically

Each of the above themes addresses the need to “attract and retain people with the qualities
needed in an innovation economy – creativity, flexibility and the know-how to design and
produce better solutions – and they must become exemplary managers and developers of
their people”.

In response to this statement, the Institute Workforce Working Party (OTTE) has developed a
three year plan with the following strategic priorities:
• Building Skills
• Raising Status
• Growing Leadership
• Managing Strategically

This project aimed to address the fourth priority of managing strategically, and will assist the
Minister’s objective to build better skills of TAFE administrators and line managers in the early
intervention and management of lost time absences.

The specific services to be provided from this project are:

• appropriate data gathering and development of a better practice model/process for


building the skills of TAFE administrators to manage TAFE staff on sick leave and long
term absences arising from Workcover claims, accidents or illnesses;

• to pilot the above as a training model/process, with associated training resources, with
the training to be undertaken with selected Departments/Groups at the Institute;

• a formal evaluation of the pilot, followed as appropriate, by adjustments to the


model/process and the training program and its resources;

• the provision of two written reports to (1) OTTE and (2) the TAFE CEO Council on the
outcomes of the model/process and the amended training program;

• following further review, an offer by the Institute to conduct the above training at other
TAFE Institutes at reasonable cost so as to support skills development to future
workcover management practices across the broader TAFE network.
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INTRODUCTION Cont.

The reason’s for Kangan Batman’s involvement in this project were:

From the organisation’s perspective:

• to provide a safer and healthier workplace


• an opportunity to improve people management processes
• to develop better cooperation and collaboration through a case management
approach to rehabilitation
• better targeting of “SHAW Program” (Self Help & Well Being) support
• less workcover and sick leave costs
• happier and healthier staff
From an individual staff member’s perspective:
• a safer and healthier workplace
• improved people management
• regular contact and support from manager when ill or injured
• coordinated return to work process
• involvement in development and management of return to work process (regular
consultation)
• increased morale
Workcover and sick leave:
• number of costly stress claims (higher than TAFE average)
• desire to reduce overall number of claims and costs of workcover
• desire to improve the following indicators: sick leave days per employee; sick leave
rate; lost time occurrence frequency rate; lost time occurrence incident rate; and,
average time lost rate (Mercers Annual Benchmarking Report)
Occupational health and safety:
• project aligns with the goals of the Institute’s “Occupational Health and Safety and
Workcover Plan 2002 – 2004”
• improve OH&S and injury outcomes
• reduce workcover costs by 20% over a 3 year period

Steering Committee
A Steering Committee was formed at Kangan Batman to take responsibility for the project.
The Committee employed a Project Officer on a part-time basis.
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STAGE 1 – DATA REVIEW & DEVELOPMENT OF MODEL/PROCESS

Summary of Major Pieces of Data Collected and Reviewed

• Sick leave and workcover reports from Kangan Batman’s CHRIS personnel and
payroll system

• “Executive Review August 2003” and “Executive Review August 2004” by


Cambridge Services Pty Ltd (workcover insurer)

• A summary of staff exit interviews conducted during 2002 and 2003

• 2002 KBT Staff Survey results (no staff survey was conducted during 2003)

• An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) summary, May 2004

• Results of the “People Matter Survey 2004” conducted with KBT staff by the Office
of Public Employment (OPE)

• Training resources prepared by Cambridge for delivery of training sessions to


management staff at KBT

• KBT “Occupational Health & Safety and Workcover Plan 2002-2004”

• KBT “Strategic Plan 2004-2006”

• KBT “Annual Report 2003”

• KBT “People Management & Organisational Development Subsidiary Plan 2003-


2005”

• VUT “Case Management System”

• TAFE system Workcover data from Worksafe Victoria (via VTA)

• OTTE Research Report “Trends in the Victorian TAFE Institute Workforce – March
2000”

• Mercer Human Resource Consulting, “Benchmarking in Practice Australia 2003 -


Corporate Benchmark Monitor Report”

• Kangan Batman Human Resources and OH&S policies and procedures

Visits to Other TAFE Institutes and Industry

The Project Officer visited the following:

• Gordon Institute of TAFE

• Victoria University of Technology

• ANZ Bank

Visits were also proposed to GMH and Pacific Dunlop, however relevant staff were
unavailable at times that suited the Project Officer

The Project Officer attended an Australian Industry Workshop “Dealing With Ill or Injured
Workers”
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Development of the Purpose and Philosophy of the Model/Process

Following careful analysis and consideration of the data collected, the following purpose and
philosophy were developed:

Purpose

Kangan Batman TAFE is committed to an effective and early rehabilitation of injured/ill


employees, irrespective whether the injury or illness is caused as a result of working at the
Institute.

Philosophy

This commitment is driven by a Council philosophy that “the health of the Institute is
dependant on the health of our employees, and the Institute has a responsibility to
care”.

Rehabilitation begins at the moment, or as close to the moment, of injury or illness, and it
continues until the employee is as fully rehabilitated as possible.
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Principles/Characteristics

The following set of principles/characteristics were developed by the Steering Committee to


guide the development of the model/process:
• Identification of potential and actual absenteeism management cases and trends
through regular review of absenteeism records and reports.
• The use of a case management approach as the means of facilitating an early, safe
and lasting resolution of an absence as well as providing appropriate support to the
employee.
• Early and regular contact with employees from the point of referral to minimise the
development of adversarial relations between the employee, colleagues and
supervisor.
• Effective partnerships developed to allow open and regular communication between
injured and ill employees, the Institute’s workcover insurer (when appropriate)
medical practitioners, other multi-disciplinary providers, supervisors, HR staff, the
OH&S Coordinator and others as required.
• Ensuring supervisors understand their role in leading and supporting the resolution of
issues identified during the risk assessment process.
• Involving employees in the development of a case management plan as part of the
resolution process.
• Respect and integration of treating professionals recommended injury/illness
management.
• Development of individual and organisational recommendations that are promptly
acted on.
• Addressing health and safety or stress/injury prevention issues that have been
identified in the case management process.
• Engaging union support as part of the implementation of a case management
solution.
• Ensuring stakeholders are continually updated and informed and their interventions
co-ordinated with respect to their roles, expertise and contribution to the case.
• Facilitating regular and well planned case management conferences with the
employee and stakeholders.
• Involvement of key decision makers at case management conferences to better plan
the case management direction and activities for each case.
• Barriers to absenteeism resolution, such as conflict between an employee and their
supervisor, dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner by the Case Manager
assigned responsibility.
• Feedback of key learning into training programs, policy development and other
relevant aspects of the rehabilitation model as part of a continuous improvement
approach.
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Responsibility and Accountability

In addition to the development of the principles/characteristics, the Steering Committee was


keen to make it absolutely clear in the model/process, where the responsibility and
accountability lay.
After consideration, the following statements were seen to be critical inclusions in the
process:
Staff Members Responsibilities
Members of staff are required to co-operate in their rehabilitation program, with the agreed
primary goal being an effective return to work.
This requirement fits within the requirements of Section 25 of the Occupational Health and
Safety Act 1985 which states:
(1) While at work, an employee must –
a)Take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and for the health
and safety of anyone else who may be affected by his or her acts or
omissions at the workplace, and
b)Co-operate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the
employer to comply with any requirement imposed by or under this Act.
Supervisors Responsibilities
Supervisors, when carrying out their supervisory role and/or as a member of a case
management team, play a critical role in enabling injured or ill members of staff to safely and
effectively return to meaningful work. Open and non-judgemental communication and regular
contact with absent employees will demonstrate that they continue to be valued members of a
work team/s.
It’s also important that supervisors encourage positive attitudes about the absent member of
staff amongst other members of his/her team. Members of staff who are begrudgingly
accepted back to work by supervisors or colleagues following absences, will more than likely
have an unsuccessful return to work.
Return to Work Options
Case Managers and Case Management Panels are encouraged to be creative when
considering the range of options for return to work. Options could include: return to full duties;
return to modified or changed duties; return to part-time duties; or, redeployment (short or
long term).
This process will be given strong support by the senior management team.
Responsibility/Accountability for the Effective Management of Sick Leave and
Workcover
General Managers, Department Managers and the Human Resources Manager share
responsibility/accountability for the effective and efficient management of staff absences on
either sick leave or workcover. Each of the above managers will have measurable indicators
for these functions included in their annual performance plans.
The Institute will set annual targets to be met in line with industry, other Government Business
Enterprises and the TAFE sector “mean averages of performance” for both sick leave and
workcover. Benchmarking will be undertaken from statistics available from Worksafe Victoria,
the annual Mercer Human Resource Consulting (Corporate Benchmark Monitor) and other
appropriate benchmarking tools.
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Responsibility and Accountability Cont.

The Steering Committee is convinced there is a need for some financial accountability at
Centre/Departmental level for sick leave and workcover costs. The Committee believes
managers will be more focussed and actively involved with rehabilitation if their budgets are
affected/at risk.

The current process at Kangan Batman is as follows:

• sick leave – Centres/Departments are responsible to cover the costs of the first ten
(10) days of sick leave – when a staff member exceeds that, all costs are reimbursed
to the Centre/Department (a sick leave code in Department Budgets would provide
managers with the opportunity to see and monitor actual sick leave costs)

• workcover – all costs are currently covered by a central account (this seems to be a
common practice in TAFE Institutes)

The Committee recommended to the Executive Team that Centres/Departments should


continue to be responsible for sick leave costs as they apply now, but should also be
responsible for the first 26 weeks of workcover backfill costs. Modelling of costs over a 13 and
a 26 week absence period for an absent teacher T4 - 2 resulted in actual costs of less than
$500 and $1,000 for the respective periods. The Committee also considers there should be a
“Premium Penalty” added to those costs. This requires further investigation before being
implemented.
Costs could be lessened further by the use of substitution duties and excess hours. PACCT
staff absences have the potential to be significantly more expensive, depending on the
amount of backfill required (40 hours a week for ans entire absence seems unlikely).

Although the workcover costs to teaching Departments are shown to be minor, the processing
of the costs through their budgets will keep these particular expenses in the forefront of
managers minds.

The decision on this matter is pending consideration of the Steering Committee’s final report
to the Executive Team.

The Model/Process

Attached as Attachment 1 is a copy of the model/process, “A Case Management Approach to


the Rehabilitation of Ill or Injured Employees”
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STAGE 2 – PILOTING OF THE PROCESS

It was decided to pilot the process during the period 2 August to 31 December across three
(3) teaching Groups, Automotive, Business and Social and Applied Sciences, covering a total
of 298.6 EFT staff.

Meetings were conducted with the management teams of the three teaching Groups to brief
them on the process. A power point presentation was developed to assist this process. Some
managers arranged to meet individually with the Project Officer and the Project Officer was
requested to provide a briefing for the staff of one Department.

A letter was forwarded with an attachment summarising the process to all staff involved in the
pilot. This advice created some negative responses from amongst the participants, especially
the staff of one Group who were late entrants to the pilot. Some members of the AEU
(managers and teachers) raised concerns about some elements of the process. This has
been sorted through discussion with local AEU officers, and one of their officers has now
joined the Steering Committee (in hindsight, this should have occurred from day one of the
project).

Also in hindsight, not enough effort was put into publicising the project prior to the pilot. For
quite a few staff, the letter and attachment were the first advice of the project. This simple
communication could have averted some of the reaction.

End of month reports have been developed and provided to managers through the period of
the pilot. The reports included the following elements:

• A sick leave report from CHRIS records showing month-by-month comparisons of


sick leave between 2003 and 2004. Managers are able to drill down from the reports
to see the details of actual absences. Managers have been trained to look for trends.

• The Committee set an optimistic target to be achieved during the pilot, of an average
delay period of five (5) days, from the end of a sick leave absence to when a sick
leave application reaches the payroll office for processing (the Institute still has a
paper based application process, although funds have been provided to implement a
self service Kiosk in the near future). The Institute average delay period at the
commencement of the project was approximately 16 days with the largest gap of 163
days. Details of achievement against this target, was provided monthly.

• Copies of the Supervisor’s Checklists were required to be attached to sick leave


applications and forwarded to Payroll/HR. Details of the % compliance with this
requirement were provided

At the approximate half way mark of the pilot, the Project Officer revisited the Group’s
management meetings to obtain feedback and commence the process of evaluation. A
significant review of the Supervisor’s Checklist was undertaken as a consequence of these
meetings. Other than a few concerns being registered, mostly around the requirement for the
initial day of absence contact, manager’s responses to the pilot were positive.
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STAGE 3 – EVALUATION OF THE PILOT

Methodology
The evaluation methodology followed was:
• a review of the implementation of the pilot;
• a review of sick leave reports and other statistics;
• an examination of any absences (including workcover) that were case managed
• discussions with the three General Managers;
• responses to a questionnaire forwarded to all Department managers (including
feedback from staff); and
• discussions with officers of the AEU local branch
Review of Implementation of the Pilot
Because the project was being conducted under fairly strict timelines that had been agreed
with OTTE, the implementation was a bit rushed. This wasn’t helped by the late decision to
include a third teaching Group (Social and Applied Sciences) in the pilot.
In hindsight, a better communication strategy should have been planned and the
implementation process slowed down.
The Steering Committee consider that the introduction of sensitive change processes should
be accompanied by direct briefings for all involved. The Project Officer’s successful briefing
and explanation with the one teaching Department bears this out.
Review of Sick Leave Reports and other Statistics
The review of sick leave records showed:
• a significant reduction in sick leave over the period of the pilot, particularly in one of
the Groups;
• a significant reduction in sick leave over 2004 (due to 2 members of staff who were
using their sick leave prior to ill-health retirement have now retired, and active people
and absenteeism management)
• significant $ savings over the pilot and the year due to the above; and,
• the “average gap” between the end of a sick leave absence and the date the
application reached payroll was reduced from 16.8 days to 13.4 days (electronic
leave applications through the Kiosk when implemented, has the potential to
dramatically improve this)
Case Managed Absences
Examination of the number of sick leave absences and the one workcover absence that were
case managed during the pilot were very positive. In particular, the case management of the
graduated return-to-work of the staff member on workcover, was excellent.
Case management recognises that teamwork, early intervention and regular communication
are the essence of the resolution of absenteeism issues.
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Evaluation of the Pilot Cont.

Discussions with the Three General Managers Involved in the Pilot


The following are some of the observations made by the three General Managers involved in
the pilot:
• Managers learnt they had the right to speak to staff who are absent on sick leave
• Managers learnt they need to be responsible for staff members not at work
• There is a heightened awareness of a requirement to manage absences
• Managers have a better view of the relationship between short term and long term
absences
• Active management of absenteeism is crucial.
The three General Managers support the implementation of the process across the Institute.
Responses to the Questionnaire sent to Department Managers
The responses from the Department Managers was not quite as positive as that from the
General Managers. However these are people at the sharp end, and for a while they and their
staff were hearing messages with cross purposes from the union and management
It’s understandable that the part of the process they found most difficult was the contact with
staff who were absent. This was always going to be the most sensitive part of the process
involving behaviour change, but hopefully over time as they and their staff become used to
speaking directly about absence, this will change.
Outcome of Discussions with the AEU
There was a number of concerns raised by the local branch of the AEU. However, following
lengthy negotiations with both officers from the local branch and AEU central, amendments
have been made to the model/process that meet their concerns and maintain the integrity of
the process.
The concerns raised by the AEU and the time it has taken to work through those issues has
had an affect on the pilot. Staff and managers at times were confused and had divided
loyalties. With the amendments made to the process following agreement with AEU, it should
mean a participative approach to the implementation of the process Institute wide.
Conclusions
The Steering Committee has provided a detailed report to the Institute’s Executive Team with
a primary recommendation that the process be implemented across the Institute in its current
form. Other recommendations cover resource issues, costing, continuation of benchmarking,
manager’s KPIs, ongoing training and the prospect of the “case management model” being
applied more widely across people management issues at the Institute.
There has been a considerable amount of learning take place during the period of the project,
which will be of significant benefit during the implementation across the Institute.
The issues with the union have had an affect on the effectiveness of the pilot, but goodwill
and a determination to resolve the issues raised in a positive manner have created an
atmosphere for the process to be further implemented in a cohesive way.
Other Institutes who may wish to learn from this process and implement some or all of the
process should ensure they tailor the process to their requirements. Suggested
Implementation Guidelines are attached.
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Training Resources

Attachment 2 is a Power Point presentation introducing the Model/Process for managers.

Attachment 3 is a Power Point presentation introducing the Model/Process for staff.

(Both presentations will need to be modified prior to showing at other Institutes)