Understanding the importance of managing sickness absence
According to figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) looking at sickness absence statistics in 2019, the average sickness absence is 5.9 days per person per year. If you consider this in the context of the impact of sickness absence on business and managing sickness absence this figure makes it clear just how important recording, measuring and monitoring this information can be to any business.
Absence from work, both short and long term can be for genuine reasons but it can also be caused by other factors. It’s important for any business owner to have the tools for monitoring sickness and to measure the costs to the business. From that point, you can start managing sickness absence and more importantly, establishing a plan for reducing sickness absence in your business.
Why do I need a sickness absence policy?
Here are just a few of the reasons you might need a sickness absence policy in your business to help you with managing absence:
- To tell staff what you expect of them (i.e. regular and punctual attendance)
- To tell staff that you will support them if there are genuine reasons for their absence
- To remind employees that unexplained absence is not acceptable
- To tell them that you are monitoring sickness absence and keeping records (this may be sufficient to deter a member of staff from taking unnecessary sick days)
- To explain that you will keep their sickness records confidential
- To help you in managing sickness absence and to proactively deal with any issues that may arise with an individual’s sickness record
- To help you to spot patterns in an employee’s sickness record – you may have an employee who takes every Friday off (to get ready for the weekend) and every Monday off (to recover from the weekend)
- To explain to managers how to support an employee who is off sick
- To explain an employee’s rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- To explain your company sick pay scheme (if you have one in addition to SSP)
- To manage specific circumstances like pregnancy related absence and disability related sickness absence.
What does a sickness absence policy cover?
A sickness absence policy doesn’t need to be complicated but it does need to include the following points:
- Clear absence notification procedures – tell staff how you expect them to notify you (usually by telephone) and by what time, giving a clear time limit
- Contact during sickness absence – tell them how often they need to phone in with updates
- Details of the information your employees need to provide in order to support their absence
- Information about fit notes and how they work
- Information about return to work interviews
- Confirmation that you may need to consult the employee’s doctor or to ask the employee to attend an independent medical examination
- Rules about payment during absence, including an explanation of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Confirmation that failure to follow the procedures could result in loss of sick pay and disciplinary action
Absence management is an essential part to having staff and looking after them. Proactively managing staff absence can help you to reduce sickness absence, particularly persistent short term absence.
Keeping HR Simple are experts in managing sickness absence, both short and long term. We specialise in supporting our clients with difficult situations and getting the best possible outcomes for both employee and employer.