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The Importance of Managing Absence

Posted On: 27/11/2019

Employee absence results in a significant cost to businesses, even small absences can have a huge impact on productivity and profitability. Ignoring sickness and believing that nothing can be done to prevent it, is a huge risk to take. All absences must be monitored and managed.  

When an employee is away from the workplace due to any form of ill health or injury, they often need support from their employer. Creating an effective absence management policy and developing a return to work programme will help promote health and wellbeing, build trust, reduce employee absence and prevent issues from escalating.

Monitoring absence

Having a HR Management System in place to record absences, such as MyHR System, provides organisations with the processes needed to effectively manage absenteeism, identify trends and take decisive action.  

Absence management policies

By law, companies must provide their workforce with information on the terms and conditions surrounding absence through sickness or injury including sick pay details. To support a positive workplace culture the company should also have clear policies explaining the employee’s rights and obligations. These should include:

Short term absences

It is imperative to hold return to work interviews, even for short absences, as these discussions can identify any underlying issues and be an opportunity to offer support.  Before these discussions take place, it is key that the manager obtains all previous absence data from the HR Management System.

In two thirds of all UK organisations, it is the responsibility of the line manager to manage their teams’ absence. Given the detrimental effect absence can have on productivity and profitability it pays to invest in training enabling them to fulfil this role effectivity.

We suggest all managers understand the following:

Long term absences

Long term absence, defined as lasting more than four weeks, is more challenging to manage. In these cases, the manager must allow the individual time to recover from their illness or injury, maintain communication as well as reduce the immediate impact to the day to day running of a department

On receipt of the fit note, it should become more apparent as to the length of absence. Understanding this, the manager is better equipped to put in place plans to cover the individual’s workload.

Ensuring that their workload is being covered benefits both the company and the individual. Feeling supported when absent can take away some of the stress of being away from the workplace for a considerable length of time and knowing that the workload is being managed can prevent the fear of returning to work.

Communication with the absent employee

For short-term absences there is usually no need for a manager to be in touch, waiting for the employee to recover and return to work is usually best practice. However, when an individual is absent for longer, communication is crucial. Striking the right balance is key, the employee must be given time to rest and recover, but they should also be reminded that they are a valued member of the team.

We understand that these conversations can be difficult, but they must not be avoided. The longer an individual is off work, the harder it may be for them to return. Sensitive and supportive communications will help the transition back into the workplace and when an effective return to work programme is put in place the employee may be able to return quicker.

We’re here to help

If your organisation requires HR support on any of the issues raised in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 941 2426. Or, if you believe you would benefit from a HR Management System, see for yourself what our MyHR System can do for you.

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