We are here to help you
We know this is a difficult and unsettling time for everyone and we are closely monitoring the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Our priority is to ensure the ongoing delivery of our customer services and we’d like to reassure you that all teams are successfully working from home and that Zurich Corporate Risk remains fully operational and is continuing to support our normal business activities. However, there may be occasional delays as people get used to new ways of working and we’d like to thank you for you for your continued support and patience in these unprecedented times.
In the meantime, we’ve created some online support and answers to frequently asked questions which may help.
To help us deal with any queries efficiently, please send all communications via email where possible. We appreciate that that’s not always possible (Original Death certificates for example), but whilst our offices are closed, communication via email ensures we are able to deal with your query quickly.
I have an employee who fractured her ankle and has been regularly visiting a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist has been unable to offer ongoing appointments due to the pandemic and as a result, their progress and prospect of a return to work has halted. What can I do to help my employee in terms of a safe return to the workplace?
Whilst outpatient physiotherapists have stopped seeing patients on a face to face basis, most are still working in some capacity either on hospital wards or by holding virtual appointments via skype. The employee should be encouraged to contact the physiotherapist via telephone or email to seek advice. Guidance can also be sought from our in-house rehabilitation team who will review each individual case on its own merits to identify the barriers to returning to work or increasing work hours.
One of my employees hasn’t had a government letter, but I think they are ‘at risk’, what should I do?
The letters recommending 12 weeks isolation have been sent to those identified to be at the very highest risk. For everyone else, it is important that they follow the most up to date government guidance, particularly careful handwashing, social distancing, going out as infrequently as possible for essentials and exercise and isolating if they develop any symptoms. They should be directed to www.gov.uk/coronavirus for advice.
I have an employee who travels nationally and internationally to visit clients and has recently agreed to return to work after suffering some ill health. Sadly, due to logistical concerns brought on by the current situation, they are now not able to return to work as planned. Are they able to continue to claim until we can fully implement the return to work process?
Unfortunately, whilst we are sympathetic to these circumstances the benefit is payable on medical rather than logistical incapacity. It would be best for us to have a conversation with you and your employee to identify what projects, tasks, proposals can be considered during this period of lockdown. This is a good time to develop and enhance projects, policies and procedures that ordinarily we would have little time for. The fact that your employee is medically able to return to work but logistically challenged should not delay the return to work proposal.
I have an employee who struggles with anxiety ordinarily and since the coronavirus outbreak, has experienced an exacerbation of their symptoms such that they are more intrusive than ever. They have spoken to their GP and he is unable to make any referrals for support at the moment. Is there anything you can suggest anything that might help?
Charitable organisations such MIND www.mind.org.uk, Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, No panic www.nopanic.org.uk all have great tips and hints for managing anxiety during these difficult times. They provide information, exercises and self-help care plans all are free. The NHS, www.nhs.uk also has some positive links and suggested reading material. And of course if you have an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), you should encourage your employee to make contact with the service, either via telephone or the website, as the support available is invaluable.
My employee has told me that her GP says that she is not quite medically ready for a return to work. Is there anything I could suggest to help her prepare?
Yes. Building mental and physical resilience and stamina prior to starting a return to work is very important and helps lay the foundations for a successful and sustainable return to work. Your employee could consider physically attempting to increase their daily activity, (irrespective of whether their role is sedentary or manual), starting with a daily 10 minute walk and aiming to increase this to 20 minutes each day. Walking at a moderate pace will increase their heart rate and improve feelings of wellbeing and improve sleep. They should think about eating small amounts regularly to maintain a healthy blood sugar and avoid eating when bored or anxious. They can also look at their sleep pattern and start to ensure a routine with getting up and going to bed. Also mentally improving their cognition with ‘brain work outs’, doing crossword puzzles, brain teasers can also help with memory, problem solving and processing information.
What should I tell employees that have started to think deeply about concerns, worry and become preoccupied with the global pandemic?
They need to limit their news exposure to once a day and focus on headlines that give an overview of fact but avoid in-depth analysis. They should only listen to or watch the news first thing in the morning or at lunch time and avoid catching up on the news at bed time. Limiting general social media exposure and focussing instead on distraction activities such as a mindfulness walk, computer app or a craft activity can also help. Ideally, they need to take control and utilise practical strategies to manage exposure to the things that cause them worry. They should consider the things that are in their control and work on those and remember that they can do nothing about the factors they have no control over. They could, however change their perception of these things by considering some on line cognitive behaviour therapy, (CBT) www.therapyforyou.co.uk. Referring them to your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) if you have one is also recommended.
I do not have private health care and NHS waiting lists are very long, where else might I get talking therapy support?
Your employer may have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which will provide a limited number of telephone or face to face counselling sessions. There are also several online programmes that you can self-refer to and the NHS website has links to these. Self-help books (endorsed by the NHS) are readily available from Amazon and you might consider a course of self-funded treatment
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