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Taking a break

Work is a busy place. Everyone has a job to do and that job must be done. Even people who love their work look forward to a break. Those of us lucky enough to close at the end of the year anticipate two or three weeks in the sun. In the meantime, we count the weeks until the next long weekend; the gap from Queen’s Birthday to Labour Day seems very long. The summer months are full of activity: socialising, gardening and generally being around people and in the outdoors. Winter is an entirely different story. It’s often dark when we go to work and dark when we get home. Our spirits are lower in winter; we are more inclined to get sick. How can we manage this?

Annual leave In New Zealand we are lucky to have four weeks annual leave. Even with a three-week closing over Christmas and New Year, that leaves nine days annual leave. Workers may take a day here and there, but it’s not uncommon for leave to accumulate. This is not great, in either employee management or health and safety terms. The organisation can be left owing an employee a lot of money – not great for cash flow. More importantly, annual leave is designed to give workers a chance to rest, to relax away from the weekly effort of work. It lets us spend quality time with our families and friends, take trips and do things that we don’t do during a normal working week. Managers or owners need to work with employees to ensure annual leave is taken in full each year (unless other arrangements are agreed to).

Sick leave It is frustrating when people are off sick. However, there is a high risk of more people becoming ill if the sick people come to work. Generally, their work is not as good as normal; who can think properly when their head is sore, and they are having trouble breathing. Recovery is slower, and the worker is more likely to relapse because they didn’t allow time. Managers are much better off encouraging sick people to stay home and recover fully. It makes good health and safety – and business – sense to manage leave. Ensure workers take their allocated annual leave. Encourage them to stay at home if they are sick. Consider wellbeing actions to limit the likelihood of sickness: a bowl of fruit and hand sanitiser are good places to start.

How can Safewise help? We work with organisations that need more health and safety knowledge, or more time, than they have in-house. For more information, check the website

© 2017 Safewise Ltd.

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