Are you managing absence in your workplace?

Sickness absence causes unmeasurable disruption to business activities and a 2019 report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that the annual cost of sickness absence is estimated at £554 per employee and there was an average of 5.9 days’ sickness absence per employee per year.

Although this figure declined during the pandemic due to many people working from home or on furlough, these numbers may return to pre-pandemic levels as the UK economy reopens.

Employers should be clear from the beginning about the business case for managing sickness absence. This should include absence notification procedures such as requiring staff to call instead of texting or emailing, conducting return to work interviews, and recording all absences and monitoring them for patterns.

Identifying the cause of absence is important in order to be able to provide support to the employee, eg if the cause is mental health, by reducing their hours. This also helps to identify whether the absence is caused by a condition likely to be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The following is vital to managing absence:

  • Alert employees of the requirements to follow when absent and how this will be managed
  • Ensure that employees know where to find the absence policy setting out the rules and expectations of the business
  • Highlight workplace support available for absent staff, eg reduction in working hours, use of annual leave for rest if the employee feels that this would help, adjustment to work load and so on.
  • Always conduct return to work meetings.

Managing absence is worth the time and effort involved as this is a significant cost to any business. Sound management processes will undoubtedly help to reduce absence levels.



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