How Do You Manage Absences In Your Business?

Staff absences can be a big issue for a lot of businesses and can be extremely hard to manage without an effective system in place to track and analyse. Our HR business partners Fusion, explain how effective monitoring and guidance can help employers make the right decisions when dealing with absence issues.


There can be many reasons that employees take time off work;

  • Short-term sickness absence
  • Long-term sickness absence
  • Other authorised absences (annual leave, maternity/paternity, caring for dependents, compassionate leave etc.)
  • Unauthorised absence or persistent lateness

Short-term sickness absence

When dealing with short term absences the most common and effective methods include:

  • Return to work
  • Implementing trigger mechanisms for continual review
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Restricting sick pay
  • Passing on absence information to line managers
  • Addressing trained line managers in absence management
  • Utilising the skills of occupational health professionals
  • Providing appropriate leave for family circumstances
  • Considering flexible working

Return to work interviews are great for addressing short-term absence issues at an early stage, they also give the opportunity to addressing any underlying issues that might be causing absence.

Disciplinary procedures introduced to support unacceptable absences should enforce to staff that unjustified absences will not be tolerated and that structured policies will be put in place to prevent this.

Long-term sickness absence

When long-term sickness occurs it is important that the right steps are taken by the line manager to assure that the situation is managed correctly.

Other interventions may also be necessary, such as:

  • Occupational health involvement
  • Appropriate measures to help support staff well-being
  • Implementing trigger mechanisms to monitor attendance
  • Restrictions on sick pay
  • Evaluating work patterns and environment
  • Return to work interviews
  • Rehabilitation programmes

The return to work process and recovery of employees is a crucial time for both staff and employers and can be aided through use of these elements:

  • Keeping in contact with sick employees
  • Planning and inputting workplace adjustments
  • Taking professional advice and treatment
  • Conducting a thorough return to work plan
  • Regular correspondence with the employee to ensure things are going well

Identifying Trigger Points

According to recent research, eight out of ten employers think that setting company targets is a successful tool in the management of staff absence. 

An effective absence management system can save time and reduce costs
significantly by helping to set targets and identifying ‘trigger points’.

A systems trigger points alert managers to when they should take action on staff absence. During long-term absences, triggers can be set to inform the company when they might request to see medical certificate’s, make contact with the employee or when the company may request assistance from external bodies such as an Occupational Health Advisor.

During short term absence (which accounts for two thirds of workplace absences) triggers may be used to spot recurrences and inform the managers that they may need to address certain employees and the ways their attendance can be improved.

Businesses use a variety of methods to try and spot recurring short-term absence which can be time consuming and inaccurate. However an effective management system can be set to alert companies when an employee passes a pre-set score or number. Managers are still encouraged to treat every situation individually and sensitively, whether triggers have been met or not. 

Proactive absence management is not just about tracking and identifying absent employees but should also be used to support employees in their departure and return to work.

Developing an effective return to work plan and implementing systems to make the transition work as easy as possible for both employees and managers is crucial to creating a clear and structured absence management strategy.

When a company is focused on both staff well being and the promotion of a healthy team, it will prove effective in reducing staff absence in the future. This also helps to prevent absences from developing into long term leave, therefore ensuring minimal impact to the business.

Our HR business partners, Fusion HR provide a cost effective solution to staff absence, which has been tried and tested in some of the most challenging
establishments across the country.

See more information about SAM (staff absence management) or call and speak to one of our advisors on 01254 355688.



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