How to reduce sickness absence in your business

In the past couple of months, I have increasingly been discussing how to manage sickness in the workplace. I have therefore set out in this post what should be included in an absence policy to help businesses manage the situation:-

1. Introduction - set out the business’s approach to managing absence in the workplace, it’s commitment to supporting staff health and well-being and to managing absence in a clear and fair way. You may also want to commit to setting targets of X number of days sickness absence per year for each employee, or you may prefer team or business wide targets.

2. Procedure – there should be a clear procedure for what is expected when a member of staff is absent. For example this may be to telephone (perhaps specifically not text or e-mail) their line manager or HR within one hour of the start of their shift or normal working hours. If no call has been received, then the manager can call the employee at home. The manager can ask the nature of the illness and the expected length of absence. The member of staff and manager should also discuss how they will keep in touch. Some managers will be uncomfortable making this call, so they may benefit from some support from HR.

3. Return to Work Interview – this is a very important tool in managing absence, and line managers may need training and support in using these effectively. Potentially difficult situations can be dealt with very effectively if tackled early, and the return to work interview is the perfect opportunity to do this. Make sure your managers know what they can ask, what support they can offer etc.

4. Sick Pay – the terms and conditions of sick pay should be clearly stated, including for part-time and short-term contract employees.

5. Evidence of Sickness – again the policy should be very clear about what evidence is required for sickness absence. Often this includes a form of self-certification in some circumstances and a Statement of Fitness for Work in others.

6. Records – be clear about who is keeping records of sickness absence, ie line managers and HR, what data they are keeping, who has access to that data and how this data may be used.

7. Maternity Absence and Disability Absence - set out how absence relating to maternity or The Equality Act 2010 will be dealt with clearly. They are separate from other types of absence.

8. Formal Proceedings - the policy should state the circumstances when formal procedures may be introduced to deal with unacceptable absence.

I will be looking at some of these factors more in the coming months, particularly the communication between the line manager and the member of staff.

This post was written by Charlie Damonsing of CLAssociates. CLAssociates specialises in helping businesses manage stress in the workplace, providing consultancy, training and 1-2-1 support. For further details please contact Charlie on 0771 559 6487.