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Absence – dealing with it fairly and lawfully

All businesses expect a certain level of absence because we are all human and all get sick at some point but absence can be extremely costly to small businesses and often, they aren’t fully aware of how to deal with sickness fairly and within the law.

Firstly, have a clear Absence Policy that is easy to understand – set your expectations clearly and concisely.  Remember that one size doesn’t always fit all, however, some important elements might include:-

  • The process for notifying the company of their absence
  • How absence will be recorded
  • What happens on their return
  • What support might be expected for those who may need a phased return
  • What the organisation considers ‘unacceptable’ absence
  • The procedure for dealing with unacceptable absence

Short term absence

Short term absence is difficult to manage in any business, but add to that, short term, persistent absence and you have an even bigger problem.  Not only does it disrupt the flow of work, it places added pressure on the remaining employees who are likely to have to step in a cover.

Long term absence

A different approach is required for long term absence:

  • Regular communication is needed to update management on the progress
  • Seeking medical advice – a doctor’s note will need to be shown for
  • Formal meetings between both employees
  • Reasonable adjustments
  • Phased returns

Train your managers

Make sure all employees with the responsibility of managing others are adequately trained in handling absence and there is a consistent approach. No one is to blame for absence, but if a regular pattern of repeat absences occurs from a member of staff, then appropriate action is required to discover the reason why. Managers need to be approachable when an employee has an issue that causes absence such as medical or grievance and cannot be made to feel guilty for needing the time away from the workplace.

If you are in need of advice and support when it comes to dealing with absence, get in touch with us today.