What the welfare officer does
In particular, the welfare officer will ask you about the nature of the problem and what steps have already been taken to resolve it. He or she will then suggest or explore options to help you progress the issue or arrive at a resolution.
The welfare officer will:
- meet with staff who are on long term sick leave
- provide practical support following bereavement
- in association with NICS WELL organise exhibitions to promote healthy lifestyles and awareness/screening programmes
- provide advice and support for addictions (gambling, alcoholism and drug dependence)
- provide advice on retirement – preparation for transition
- signpost other areas of specialist advice information and support
What the welfare officer does not do
The welfare officer does not act as an advocate in areas such as grievance, discipline or harassment; nor does the welfare officer offer ongoing counselling.
Changes to the referral process
One referral process
If you are on long term sick absence you would previously have been referred to both OHS and WSS but this has now changed to a one referral process. Staff are now referred to Welfare early in their absence and with the possibility of one OHS referral should the absence continue.
As part of the managing attendance process, staff are referred to Welfare by Employee Relations (NICSHR). As such, anyone called to an appointment is expected to attend.
The primary aim in managing sickness absence is to, where possible, facilitate a return to work at the earliest reasonable point. The Welfare Officer will provide practical and focussed information to support staff during their absence and their return to work.
Appointments will be arranged at suitable satellite offices for staff to attend and will last no longer than 1 hour. At the conclusion of the meeting the Welfare Officer will agree the content of a progress report which will be forwarded to Employee Relations (NICSHR).
Employee Assistance Programme
The Employee Assistance Programme, provided by Inspire (0808 800 0002), provides trained counsellors who focus on an individual’s inner experiences (feelings, meanings, thoughts) of an issue and seek to examine these in detail to enable the client to face problems and difficulties.
Whilst Welfare Support Service provides emotional support to its clients, Inspire complements the role of Welfare Support by providing a confidential counselling service. It is, therefore, an important additional resource for staff.
Contact the Welfare Support ServiceWelfare Support Service
2-4 Bruce Street
Telephone: 028 9025 1771
If you wish to speak to a Welfare Officer, the Service operates from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
Please note this service is only available to past and present Northern Ireland Civil Service staff.