Managing Employee Sickness and Absence
Employee absence is a significant cost to the majority of businesses in the UK and managing sickness absence is a key issue for employers.
As well as the direct costs of employee absence (paying sick pay and paying another individual to perform the absent employee’s work), high levels of absence can demotivate those employees who have to take on the absent employee’s work, cause disruption to productivity and affect an employer’s continuity of service to its clients.
Employees are going to be off sick from time to time and most employers are reasonably sympathetic about their staff’s welfare. It is important that employers recognise how to deal with the physical/mental well-being of employees and implement systems and policies which will maintain the success of the business.
Tips for businesses dealing with sickness absences:
Communicate with your employees
Maintain regular contact with your employee while they are absent from work.
Have a clear policy in place which outlines guidelines you can follow when dealing with sickness absences so as to display fair and consistent behaviours.
Keep detailed records of absences
It is especially important for a business to identify patterns of absenteeism. This may highlight particular departments which are having problems.
Consider allowing employees to take periods of unpaid leave to help them cope better with their illness and aid their rehabilitation back to work.
Training for managers
Train managers to deal sympathetically with employees who are ill.
Employers should consider what evidence they require from an employee especially in terms of long term absences as this can establish if there any reasonable adjustments which can be made.
Return to work interviews
ACAS recommends that a return to work interview should be carried out in terms of ill health absence.
In order to protect businesses from discrimination claims, employers should consider the opportunity for appropriate adjustments such as reducing workloads, working part time and assessing their work station when an employee returns to work.
If there is no alternative for employers but to follow a formal process to dismiss an employee because of a long term illness, then make sure that procedures are followed in accordance with any contractual obligations and the relevant policies contained in the staff handbook.
Acas have published a guide to managing staff absence – Acas step by step guide
When was the last time your business updated its policies and/or contracts of employment? Give us a call on 01494 817193 or visit ELiAction Handbooks & Policies to find out how we can support your business.