Absence Management

Staff sickness absence can be very costly and really disruptive to the day to day running of small businesses. The costs can include paying the absent employee, paying temporary workers, and the decline of productivity if adequate cover is not possible.

Here are some tips on how to effectively manage sickness absence within your small business.

1. Have an absence management policy in place, which you are sure every employee understands, and contains the following information:

Expected standards of attendance.

Who to phone when ill (ensure the phone number is widely available).

When to make this call (e.g. one hour before the start of their shift).

The rules around sick pay and evidence of incapacity.

Sickness absence management process.

Trigger points.

Return to work discussions.

2. Ensure that Team Leaders / Managers  know to cover the following information in a sickness absence phone call:

The reason for the absence.

The likely date of return.

The most up-to-date contact details.

Ensure that all of this information is recorded.

3. Sick Pay:

Check their contract to determine their entitlement to sick pay.

Subject to qualification, Statutory Sick Pay is the minimum amount of pay that all employees are entitled to.

4. Evidence of incapacity to be obtained for each period of absence

A self-certification for absence of 7 calendar days or less.

A doctor’s certificate for longer absences submitted in time for payroll cut-off.

5. Conduct a return to work discussion on the employee’s first day back at work covering:

The specific details of their illness and how they are feeling now.

The reason for the absence.

Whether there is anything contributing to the employee’s absence, such as stress.

Any support they may need going forward.

6. Use trigger points when a specific level of absence or a pattern of absence occurs:

Ensure the procedure is applied consistently and employees know what to expect in line with your absence policy.

Consider putting the employee on an improvement plan or taking disciplinary action.

Monitor any patterns, e.g. a disproportionate number of Mondays off sick or the time of year.

A disability or underlying condition should be treated separately.

7. Keep a paper trail:

Keep accurate records of all meetings and correspondence including telephone conversations and voicemails.

Keep all documents secure and confidential.

8. Be proactive with long term absence:

Often classed as anything longer than 4 weeks.

Meet with the employee to get a full understanding of the situation and offer support.

In addition, a regular telephone update once a fortnight is advisable.

Ask how the employee is recovering and when they think they will be able to return to work.

Ask the employee to contact you following any update on their medical condition.

Consider obtaining a report from their GP or Occupational Health.

Consider a phased return to work to enable the employee to return gradually.

9. Consider educating employees on how to manage their wellbeing including:

Flu vaccinations.

Smoking cessation assistance.

Exercise competitions.

Healthy eating options within the employee canteen.

Kerris Crook HR Consultancy can support and guide you through any sickness episodes. Please contact me on 07753 743468 for any further information.