The first Monday in February – otherwise known as “National Sickie Day” as it is traditionally known as the day of the year with the highest sickness absence.   In a light hearted take on the subject, the national press have published several articles on the worst or most ridiculous excuses for phoning in sick.  On a more serious note whether employees are suffering from “sneezes and wheezes” or something more serious, sickness absence is one of the most vexing problems for employers.  Here are our top tips to deal with the issue:-

  1. Many employers do not record sickness absence if it is unpaid, for example, the three waiting days prior to qualifying for Statutory Sick Pay.  It is important that all absence is recorded, whether it be for sickness, caring responsibilities or unauthorised leave.  You should also put in place rules for reporting sickness absence that employees must abide by.
  2. Whether you use a simple method of averaging the number of days sickness absence for your workforce or adopt a more sophisticated method such as the Bradford Factor, monitoring is essential so that you can establish who is having an excessive amount of time off work or whether there are patterns developing.
  3. If an employee has a medical condition that is causing them to have a lot of time off work, a medical report from their GP may be necessary to establish whether their condition is a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. If it is, adjustments may be required to their role, workplace or hours to assist them in managing their work on a day to day basis.  If an employee’s absence is short term, sporadic and for a variety of causes, you will need to adopt a disciplinary process, issuing a series of warnings if the employee’s absenteeism fails to improve.
  4. An Absence Policy which communicates your stance on absence, the reporting procedure required and the methods your company will adopt to manage sickness absence is a valuable tool.  Employees will then see that they are not being singled out and that the Policy is applied equally and fairly to all employees.

If you would like more advice about managing sickness absence or any other HR or employment issue that is concerning you, please contact Jayne Holliday at jholliday@thursfields.co.uk.

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