Sickness Absence

Absence Management

Employee absence is a significant cost for employers. 

Employees are absent for an average of 6.4 days per annum

Absence management helps to support employees to stay in work or return to work when they have been unwell. 

Often employers find it difficult to find the balance between providing support to the employee while they continue to work or to assist their return to work and taking firm action to ensure that absence policies are not taken advantage of. Employers should record all correspondence with employees when dealing with absence, such as phone calls and meetings. 

A key part of managing absence is the role of line managers. Line managers or supervisors are the first point of contact for an employee when they report an absence and when they return to work. Line managers link the employees to the owners of the business, therefore it is essential that managers develop and maintain a good relationship with employee to manage absenteeism. Employers should provide training for line managers to equip with the skills to have the confidence to consider the wellbeing of the people they manage, while ensuring their working environment suits their needs. 

Managers should monitor continuous absence and patterns of absence and implement appropriate procedures when necessary. 

While managers have responsibility for absence management, it is imperative that employees are aware of the company’s absence management procedure. Employees should be made aware of this during the induction process.

Sickness absence is either defined as short term or long term absence. Short term is often easier managed and can be dealt with using absence policies, disciplinary procedures and occupational health. It is important for employers to have effective absence policies and return to work procedures in place to form part of an effective attendance management strategy. 

Long term absence can be challenging to manage and requires management from both HR and the employee’s line manager. Regular communication, including wellbeing meetings and appointments with OHC can help to manage long term absence. 

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