According to figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) looking at sickness absence statistics, the average employee is absent 6.8 days per year and the average cost to the business is approximately £600 per employee per year. These figures make it clear just how important recording, measuring and monitoring sickness absence figures can be to any business.
Absence from work, both short and long term (link to sub article), 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 to monitor absence 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.
Here are just a few of the reasons you might need a policy to deal with employee sickness 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 their 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 allow you to manage 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)
What does a sickness absence policy cover?
A sick leave 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 and reduce the cost to your business.