It is often the case during the summer months; the sun comes out, the temperatures go up and the level of staff sickness absences increase. Is there anything that employers can do in this scenario?
The drastic increase of holiday requests during summer can lead to confusion over who is meant to be present at work and who isn’t. Emphasis should be placed on carrying out the correct procedure to deal with holiday requests, including the correct approach for declining the request. Once authorised holiday absences have been dealt with, managers will have a clearer idea about who should be in the office in the first place and can monitor the staff levels accurately. It may be that certain businesses have a level of staff absence which, below this level, action needs to be taken. This can also help to determine whether employees are taking absences which combine with their authorised holidays, for example, are they calling in sick the day after their holiday to deal with their post-holiday blues or are they taking an extra day off to pack their bags beforehand?
Unauthorised absenteeism during good weather is often for a few days here and there and employees do not have to provide a doctor’s note, a fit note, until their absence reaches a period of 7 days. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand the real reason behind the absence and suspicions of foul play are easy to be jumped to. As a matter of routine, return to work interviews should be conducted with employees when they have returned from their absence. Though it may not seem worth it after a single day’s absence, a consistent approach to show employees that their absences are dealt with seriously can create an efficient deterrent in the matter.
Maintaining an accurate, up-to-date set of sickness absence records will also help to manage this situation. Recording absences can help to show whether there is a particular pattern of absence, such as every Monday following a hot weekend, of whether the employee’s record has reached a certain level at which it should be addressed. Most absence management systems have a ‘trigger point’ at which action can be taken.
If there is sufficient evidence to show that the employee has lied about their sickness absence, or the matter is one of persistent absences, this will usually be cause for disciplinary action so long as these are covered by internal procedures. As always, any care needs to be taken when dealing with any absences relating to disability but clear contractual terms relating to absence and formal action should always be outlined.
If you need help and assistance on this issue then please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.