Managing absenteeism - checklist

Managing absenteeism - checklistStaff being away with illness can cost your company dearly in missed working time. Here are our tips for minimising absences.

  • Set a policy requiring employees to call in and notify the company of any absences. Ask employees to speak to their supervisor, if possible, rather than leaving a message.
  • Meet with employees on their return to work: make sure they are fully recovered, bring them up to date and, if necessary, clarify the reason for the absence.
  • Check whether you can implement any changes to working practices or working environment to reduce further illness, for example, ergonomic seating or longer breaks.
  • Clarify what evidence you require for claims of illness (eg self-certification or a doctor’s ‘Fit Note’ ); ensure this is covered in employment contracts.
  • Include illegitimate absenteeism as a disciplinary offence.
  • Treat employees with genuine reasons sympathetically; respect the legal rights of employees suffering from long-term illness or disability.
  • Monitor individual absenteeism.
  • Monitor overall absence levels, for example, as a percentage of total working time. Consider publicising them, but beware of breaching privacy rules.
  • Analyse any significant correlations: for example, high levels of absenteeism on Mondays or among a particular group of employees.
  • Do not check potential new recruits’ sickness and attendance records until you have made a job offer unless fitness for a specific task is intrinsic to that role, you are asking questions for monitoring purposes or you are checking whether reasonable adjustments are required.
  • Motivate employees so that they want to work; aim to provide fulfilling projects and development opportunities.
  • Create a climate of open communication and trust so that employees approach supervisors with problems rather than just calling in sick.
  • Check that you are providing healthy working conditions: ensure that you have good lighting, ventilation and safe working practices.
  • Consider providing an employee health scheme or offering training in healthy lifestyles and stress management.
  • Draw up family-friendly policies to allow employees to legitimately take personal time when they need it. All employees with at least 26 weeks’ service are entitled to request flexible working.
  • Ensure that managers lead by example.

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