Managing Absence Successfully

Did you know, according to the Centre of Economic and Business Research, sickness absences cost businesses a huge £18 billion per year?

The CIPD’s Annual Absence Management Survey Report 2016 confirmed that the most common causes of short term illnesses are:

  • Minor Illnesses such as flu, colds, stomach upsets, headache, migraines
  • Stress
  • Musculoskeletal injuries such as neck strain, repetitive strain
  • Home and family carer responsibilities
  • Mental Ill health such as clinical depression and anxiety

The common causes of long term illnesses are:

  • Stress
  • Acute medical conditions such as stroke, heart conditions
  • Mental ill health such as clinical depression and anxiety
  • Musculoskeletal injuries such as neck strain, repetitive strain

So, what steps can you put in place to manage both short and long-term absence?

  • Have a clear Sickness Notification Policy requiring the individual to phone and speak to a line manager to notify they are absent. This allows for a conversation to manage any operational impact and can deter non-genuine short-term absences.
  • Request that fit notes are supplied where absences are more than 7 days in a row. This could indicate the duration which the absence is likely to be.
  • Consider whether a phased return or adjustment to work pattern or work load is required.
  • Return to work interviews are important and are used as a deterrent of non-genuine short-term absences. These interviews are proven to help identify underlying health issues which might be causing the absence.
  • Flexible working initiatives such as working from home or change of working hours are worth considering as they support staff in better work life balance, thus reducing the chances of developing stress related illnesses.
  • Consider Employee Assistance programmes (EAP). This is a counselling service which aims to help reduce absence by offering support to employees to help them cope with work and personal life issues.  Advice on stress management, depression, relationships, financial concerns and family concerns are some of what is generally offered by an EAP.
  • Occupational Health – you could consider the services of an Occupational Health provider if the absence is long term.



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