- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.