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Bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality: Line managers and the protection of job security for ill workers in the modern workplace

Cunningham, I.R. and Dibben, P. and James, P. (2004) Bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality: Line managers and the protection of job security for ill workers in the modern workplace. British Journal of Management, 15 (3). pp. 273-290. ISSN 1045-3172

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In the light of the long-standing concern in management regarding the gap that can arise between organizational policy prescriptions and line-management practice, the purpose of this article is to provide insights into the nature and causes of that gap. The particular focus of analysis is the line manager's role in facilitating the employment security of employees who have contracted serious illness, injuries or disabilities. More specifically, the article presents findings from four case-study organizations in the UK, and identifies a number of factors that militate against the ability of line managers to comply with organizational policies on the provision of workplace adjustments and employment security for ill or disabled workers. These factors include: contradictory policy requirements, weaknesses in training, lack of support from relevant internal and external specialists and various work and budgetary pressures. The authors suggest four areas of action that may begin to reduce the potential for conflicts between management and employees, and minimize the legal vulnerability of organizations in an area of increasing domestic and international regulation.