Employment Law

Proactive steps to deal with excessive short-term absences

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Proactive steps to deal with excessive short-term absences

Battling high levels of short-term absences can have its effects on the business, including stress on other members of the team and decreased efficiency and productivity. If excessive absences are left unaddressed, the issues can spiral out of control. Mistakes can be costly too and may result in claims for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination. Its important employers take proactive steps to manage excessive short-term absences.
In this article, we’ve put together our top 3 steps to take.

Implement a sickness absence policy and follow it

A sickness absence policy is allows you to communicate to your employees expectations for attendance, reporting procedures and the potential consequences if an employee has an unsatisfactory attendance record.
Your policy can include benchmarks, known as “trigger points” for unsatisfactory attendance levels where you will instigate an investigation into their absences. It effectively sets a basis for action to be taken if an employee’s absence levels meet the trigger points in a specific period. The triggers points need to be reasonable and will vary from business to business depending on what you consider to be unsatisfactory.
A sickness absence policy will also help your managers understand what steps to take when an employee is off sick, and to take consistent approach to avoid any unfair treatment.

Introduce a monitoring system

Monitoring and recording each absence and the reason will help you uncover any trends or patterns. For instance, an employee may be taking a disproportionate amount of Mondays off sick. It will also help you assess whether there is something underlying that needs to be investigated into. For instance, if an employee regularly takes sick days for migraines.

Return to work interviews

Holding return to work interviews following a period of absence will allow you to find out the reason for the absence. For genuine cases of absences, it can help prevent absences from escalating as you can discuss what support you can put in place to prevent further absences, for instance, if the absence is triggered by stress at work. It is also useful to identify whether there are any signs of underlying medical conditions, which could be considered as a disability under employment law. Whereas, for ingenuine absences, it can be an effective deterrent.
You will need to take a different approach to managing someone who is constantly taking short-term absences due to a variety of different reasons to someone who has been taking short-term absences or on long-term sick relating to a consistent health condition.
If your business is affected by employees with high levels of absences, please get in touch! Our team are on hand to help to advise of measures you can put in place to manage absences and any formal action if necessary.

Author: Anna Schiavetta, Employment Law Solicitor at Howarths

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