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How do I manage employee absence?

Published on 14 October 2017 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
employee absence

Effective staff attendance management can be crucial to the success of a business. The occasional day off because of illness or unplanned personal leave is to be unexpected. However, a pattern of unauthorised employee absence or sick leave can have a detrimental impact on the business.

Why might employees be failing to attend work?

It is imperative for employers to investigate the reasons for recurring absence.  It can be all too easy to assume that absence is caused by laziness. Whilst “duvet days” might account for some workplace absence, there are a range of other factors that might be relevant. An employee might be reluctant to attend because of workplace concerns such as bullying, harassment or workload. Alternatively, the employee might be experiencing difficulty in their home-life leading to absence.

What can I do to improve attendance?

Before an employee absence problem can be addressed, it must be effectively recognised. It is important to ensure that attendance is monitored so that patterns of absence can be identified. Appropriate action can then be taken promptly. In addition, having a clear policy on what will happen when employees fail to attend work can act as a deterrent to absence with no genuine cause.

Once an employee returns to work, it would be sensible to hold a return to work interview. Such interviews serve two purposes: (1) they deter employees from taking sickness or personal leave that they do not genuinely need; and (2) they can reveal workplace concerns such as those discussed above.

Improving attendance can have a significant impact on workplace morale and business output and in many instances it is not hard to achieve.

Seeking advice from an expert is essential

A failure to effectively manage absence can be detrimental to a business. At best, it can result in the loss of good staff because of concerns that could have been resolved. At worst, it could leave an employer facing a claim for disability discrimination if there is a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

If you need advice in connection with managing workplace attendance include employee and manager training, please contact our Employment Team by completing this form for a call back. Alternatively you can visit our employment services page here.

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