Fact sheet: Absence

When it comes to absence it’s clear that it will never be possible to eliminate sickness absence entirely. However, with clear and concise policies and procedures sickness absence can be managed effectively.

Recording absence

Within your business one key element in the process is the recording of the absence. These records will give your business easy visibility for any patterns in relation to day(s), date(s) and reason(s) for the absence. Depending on what policy you adopt it will assist your management when distinguishing whether the individual’s absence has reached a point that needs to be managed formally.

Contractual terms

It is important that the employee have contractual terms relating to absence, their pay whilst absent and any potential formal action that can be taken (including when termination may be considered) This is necessary when it comes to potentially managing the unsatisfactory absence levels.

Absence triggers

Depending on what triggers or policy you have in place if an unsatisfactory level of absence be identified then it is best to first set-up a return to work interview with them to discuss their health and recent absences. This would usually be discussed when the employee initially returns to work and you would discuss the reasons for the previous absence and the current absence levels. It may be applicable at this point to examine the absences in more detail, the frequency and causes, whether there are any underlying issues at work or domestic issues and what can potentially be implemented to try and eliminate any further absences.

Reasonable Adjustments

If it is established that the reasons for the unsatisfactory are legitimate and illness is an underlying issue with the employee, try and discuss any possible adjustments to help the them within their role. You can look at the job role, the location of work and method of working to help with the employee’s health situation and aim to reduce any further absences by potentially making a reasonable adjustment.

In the instances where the absence levels and explanations around them unacceptable and the absence has hit the unsatisfactory trigger point in relation to the policy/contracted terms you should discuss with the individual and explain that you will be conducting a disciplinary meeting (this is dependent on the detail within your policy or procedure) notifying of the time and date via a formal invite document detailing the poor levels of absence with any formal documentation to support this. This meeting should be conducted as per your contractual terms and within the requirements of the ACAS code of conduct.

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