You have an employee who often calls in sick for short absences, it is happening quite frequently, and other team members are starting to comment. Does this sound familiar? What can you do?
Firstly, check your absence policy. If you don’t have one it doesn’t matter you can still manage the absence, but it does help if you have a policy in place which outlines your process and review points. Some people struggle with managing absence, especially if they feel the absence has been genuine. You won’t automatically start the process after each absence, you will take them all into account and the different circumstances before making that decision.
The thing to remember is that you aren’t necessarily starting a formal process because you don’t feel the absence hasn’t been genuine, but because you cannot rely on the individual to attend work as required, which has an impact on the team and the business.
You can consider:
- holding a return-to-work meeting with the individual each time they are off. Sometimes this is all that is needed.
- Looking at if there are any trends to their absence i.e., are they always off on a Friday or is it always different days of the week?
- Whether there are any underlying reasons for their absence such as a disability
- If there is a disability whether your review points need amending to take that into account
- Obtaining advice from Occupational Health
- Highlighting to them what your company review point is and that an improvement is expected. Many companies will use a number of absences in a 12-month period such as 4 absences in a rolling 12 month period. Some companies use the Bradford Factor which is a formula commonly used to measure absence in points.
- If there has been no improvement, explain to them that they have reached the company review point, the impact their absence has on the company and that this could lead to a formal meeting where their absence will be reviewed, they may be issued with an absence improvement notice and it will be expected their absence improves or the next stage in the process will be started.
- Starting the formal process if there is no improvement.
When you start the formal process, you will need to ensure you give them adequate notice of the meeting (at least 48 hours), the right to bring with them either a colleague or Union representative and all of the information that you will be using to make a decision. Then will then have the chance to appeal the outcome of that meeting.
You may not need to follow a full process if the individual has less than 2 years’ service and there is no disability to consider, you can terminate employment a lot easily – seek advice.
One thing I would recommend is to start as you mean to go on, don’t delay dealing with absence as it only becomes harder to manage in the long run as it becomes accepted that it is the ‘norm’. Dealing with these things early on will help attendance, team morale and your bottom line. Yes, it does take time – but it is time worth investing in!