Managing Staff Absence

How to manage short term or recurring sickness & unauthorised absence

High levels of unauthorised absence, including sick leave can cause lost or delayed production, low morale and reduce the standard of service within a business.

How To Manage Absence Issues In The First Instance

Managing attendance problems often means tackling possible causes of absence, such as working patterns, job design and employment relations. This can also include addressing discipline problems such as lateness and poor time keeping.

As an initial step, they can often be dealt with informally by the line manager.

Measuring and Monitoring Absence

Measuring absence can show how much time is lost, where it occurs most and how often individual employees are absent. Keeping individual attendance records will help monitor absence and lateness.

Having attendance and absence policies will help employees understand what standards are expected of them and will help managers deal with these issues in a fair and consistent way.

Why People Are Absent From Work

There are usually 3 main reasons:

They are sick

They feel unable to come to work because of family or caring responsibilities

They are on authorised leave such as holiday, maternity leave or a training course

On average people are absent from work for 4.6 days a year (Office for National Statistics 2021).

What Is Unauthorised Absence

Unauthorised absence is normally the “odd day off” when employees give no reason for the absence. Whether paid or unpaid this type of absence can be costly to a business as it is unpredictable. Absence of this kind may eventually lead to disciplinary action.

How to Minimise Absence and Lateness

In addition to carrying out effective return to work discussions, there are workplace issues that can be addressed to minimise absence.

These include the quality of management, working relationships, job design, employment relations, communication of information and flexible working arrangements.

In addition, if workers know that absence will be noticed and investigated, they are less likely to take time off work without proper cause.

How To Deal with Absence or Lateness When It Happens

Authorised absence and lateness can be dealt with by:

requiring absent employees to phone in by a given time on each day of absence

having a return to work interview to ensure there are no underlying issues

taking disciplinary action if unexplained absence continues

Certified or uncertified sickness can be dealt with by:

monitoring individual absence levels

holding return to work interviews

discussing the problems with the employees

having a policy on sickness absence

seeking medical opinions if necessary

Return to Work Interview

This is generally a standard procedure, so is likely to be covered in an employer’s absence policy or company handbook.

In most businesses, discussions will be informal and brief and include questions like ‘how do you feel about being back at work?’

They are normally intended to welcome an employee back and check that they’re well enough to be working, find out why they were away and let them know any news.

If an employee has been absent from work often, employers may also wish to find out if there are any underlying problems causing this, for instance if the sickness is work-related or if they are having any problems at work or home.

Occupational Health Referrals

Occupational health referrals are very helpful in instances where an employee has been absent from work for a long period of time and professional medical advice is required to determine the prognosis for an employee’s condition; a likely return to work date – if at all; and details of adjustments that may need to made to the employee’s working environment to facilitate their safe and healthy return.

not sure what to do next?

At Cluer HR we can guide you through all these elements of managing the absence of your employees. Please get in touch to discuss your case further.

Did you know?

At Cluer we offer bespoke retained packages tailored to your requirements.

Sign up for HR updates

Receive regular HR updates and access to free resources.