Managing short-term sickness absence

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employee illness
One of the key elements in managing sickness absence is to accurately measure and monitor each employee’s absence. In a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), fewer than half of employers monitor the cost of absence which can be significant in those companies who have a problem in this area.

Companies should collect absence data to identify particular patterns of absence and their underlying causes. One of our clients started measuring sickness absence and discovered that the instances of absence were significantly higher in one particular department. Further investigation found that the majority of the absence was stress related as a result of the rather aggressive management style of the Manager.

It is important to have a clear absence management policy in place that supports the Company’s business objectives and culture. The policy should provide details of contractual sick pay terms if any and how this relates to statutory sick pay, outline the process employees should follow when notifying absence, what forms they need to complete, when they need to obtain a fit note from their Doctor and include provisions for return to work interviews if appropriate.

Return to work interviews can provide an opportunity to start dialogue with an employee regarding underlying issues which might be causing absence and can help to identify problems at an early stage.

Disciplinary action may be taken as a last resort to make it clear that unjustified absence will not be tolerated by the Company.

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