Sickness absence affects many organisations on an almost daily basis and impacts upon productivity and the smooth running of business operations. How can employers manage absence in order to optimise their workforce?

As a starting point it is advisable to ensure that up-to-date policies are in place and that managers are not only aware of their existence but use these steps to actively manage absence. Please note there are pro-active steps you can take to manage long term absence when it occurs and the advice line can guide you through this process.

Proactive steps can include holding a consultation meeting with the employee to find out how they are, and if there are any steps that can be taken in order to assist them return to work. If it is not possible to hold a face to face meeting then this could be dealt with via a telephone call.
Another example could include finding light duties for an employee who has a back injury and is unable to lift. There can be a financial advantage to this step in the event that you pay occupational sick pay.

After consulting with an employee and reviewing their absence in accordance with your sickness policy it may be possible to contemplate termination. In these circumstances it would be advisable to obtain two reports one from the GP and the other from an Occupational Health provider. These will help demonstrate that you have acted reasonably in obtaining two opinions before taking steps towards termination. Before holding a final capability hearing consultation should take place regarding the content of the report and consideration should be given as to whether the employee is able to return to work in the reasonably foreseeable future and if so will the employee be able to render regular and efficient service. In addition if there is a disability consideration should be given as to whether there are any reasonable adjustments that an employer can put in place.

Another approach to tackle absenteeism would be to introduce an Employee Assistance Programme. This programme would proactively prevent issues from escalating into something more problematic and can significantly reduce absenteeism and improve staff performance. Employee Assistance Programme will also give employees’ access to helplines to manage issues such as debt, family care, relationships, medical issues, personal financial/legal enquires, bereavement and any other situation they may need support with to manage life’s ups and downs either at home or in the workplace.

Specific advice should be sought via calling our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2786 before initiating this process as each case is different.