Sickness – 5 tips any employer needs to read

Sickness is something I seem to be dealing with a lot at the minute. Unless you’re extremely lucky you will at some point have to deal with sickness. Even if it’s not an issue, the following tips will help you manage sickness and stop it escalating.

  1. Keep records – this is so crucial and needs to be done from word go. By records – I don’t just mean sickness I mean anything which involves absenteeism – holidays, sickness, medical appointments, arriving late, taking time off to look after a child – anything which takes that person away from work. Keep them in one place if you can so you can easily review it all together.
  2. Identify what sickness is acceptable – you may shout – it all is of course. No – you are not a charity and cannot just let unacceptable sickness go unnoticed. You may decide that after 4 absences in a rolling 12 month period – you will hold a disciplinary hearing – decide up-front and communicate. Put it in a policy and make sure everyone is aware.
  3. Monitor the records – don’t just ignore the facts. Every time someone is sick (you will get to know the serial offenders), pull out their record. This is where point 1 comes in – to fully analyse attendance, you need to know everything. You may find that, taking into account every reason for absence, someone hasn’t worked a full month! This will help you see patterns – does someone always take the first day off after they’re due back from holiday.
  4. Always assume that sickness is genuine. If you’re second guessing the validity of absence – you’ll come across as suspicious and cold. Some people may take time off when you think – I would definitely come into work with that. It’s still a genuine absence and one that the individual felt was necessary. If someone gives you reason to doubt whether the sickness is genuine – act on that as a misconduct matter – but it shouldn’t be your first thought.
  5. Take action – if you want to tackle absence, show that you’re handling if fairly and consistently – take action when your policy states you should. You may be afraid to tackle this and let if fester – the impact of that is others in the team notice, become disengaged and may even think – I may as well take time off too as nothing ever happens about it. You can tackle genuine sickness – it it’s too excessive and you’re Company can not manage – it needs to be managed.

It can be a minefield – especially if someone has a disability. You don’t need to tackle this all on your own. If in doubt – ask - Mint HR are happy to help. We can create you a policy, provide advice and guidance and come on site to hold more formal meetings. Just give us a shout.

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