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Managing Short-Term Absences

Last month we discussed long-term absence, however when we speak to companies about managing employee absence, most focus on long-term sickness. Most will confirm that when someone is off for over a week, they often complete a return to work form or interview however, this is not for those who only have short periods of absence. It could however be very beneficial to do them for when an employee is off for just a couple of days.

There can be many reasons for absences; ill health, dependents ill-health or childcare etc., and therefore it is important to make sure we are documenting the reasons for absence. In part, this it to see if there are any trends as to why individuals are off but also to see if there are areas where we may be able to support the individual in being absent less often.

The first thing you need to do as a business is to establish what is acceptable versus an unacceptable level of absence, as this creates fairness and consistency and gives us an indication of what triggers further processes or investigation into an employees’ absence record.

You need to make sure you have a clear absence reporting process which will usually be shown in the Employee Handbook and explained during onboarding or induction, so employees know exactly what is expected of them when they are absent. Once an employee comes back to work, we recommend a return to work interview with the employee. This allows you to understand what the absence was really for, whether you can support the individual in the future and may also help to deter anyone from being off except for genuine sickness.

To support this process, companies should also consider how they log absence records. This could be manually or using specific software; either way, it should allow you to have a clear record of all instances of absence and the reasons given for not attending work. We would also recommend that you do not allow employees to take holiday for time off when they are sick, as this can result in a skewed absence record and doesn’t allow employees to get their required rest.

Please get in touch if you would like support in managing your absences or you may like to register for our next half-day training course, Managing Absences, Holidays and Mental Health in the Workplace, coming up on 6th July 2022.

By Rachel StoreyProAktive HR Support

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