Absence is a significant cost to a business in terms of sick pay, loss of productivity and the negative impact it has on those who are left to pick up the slack.
Effective absence management can be tricky to get right. It involves finding a balance between supporting employees with health conditions to recover and return to work, and taking consistent and prompt action to reduce regular, short-term absence.
There is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to absence management
There is no quick fix to managing absence, but there are tried and tested ways of reducing absence levels:
- The Attendance Policy should clearly set out the employee’s obligations during a period of absence, including how and when they should first report their absence and how they should stay in touch if it continues.
- The policy should explain employees’ sick pay entitlement and how the company manages short and long-term absence.
- Absence data must be accurate and comprehensive to ensure consistency of treatment and to enable managers to make decisions based on the full facts.
- The return to work interview on an employee’s first day back at work is the tried and tested way of successfully tackling short-term absence.
Long-term sickness can be more difficult to manage and takes time. It must be handled very sensitively in the employee’s interests but also to avoid a claim for unfair dismissal.
Some key points to know are:
- It is reasonable for an employer to decide that the time has come to consider dismissing an employee who has been long-term absent and shows no sign of being able to return to work.
- The severity of the impact on the business of an employee’s continued absence is a significant consideration when determining the point at which dismissal becomes justified, e.g. impact on customer service, cost of temporary cover.
- Wherever possible, the decision to dismiss must be based on current medical information about the employee’s condition and the likelihood of their return to work.
- The employee may be considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and so protected from discrimination. In this event, the employer must show they have considered making reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to return to work.
If you would like to know more about the different methods of absence management and how additional hr support can benefit your company, get in touch!