How An Effective Absence Management Policy Can Benefit All

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This is a guest post by
Finley Talbot – post graduate student, writer

Employee absence costs businesses billions in revenue every year and remains one of the biggest concerns for Senior Management and Human Resources.

It not only costs in terms of sick pay, but also in lost productivity.

Additionally, it can affect morale when colleagues have no choice but to ‘pick up the slack’.

Designing and Implementing an effective Absence Management programme may go a long way in providing a better environment for all.

Here are some suggestions…

Communicate a Clear Absence Policy

Consequently finding ways to reduce absence is ever a priority for those in charge.

Luckily, there are ways to tackle the issue and to even minimise it, as listed below:

All businesses should create and publicise a clear absence policy so that each and every member of staff knows what to do in the event that they fall ill.

The policy should outline the steps from calling the office to presenting doctor’s notes.

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It should state what the self-certification period is and indicate at what point any absences might be deemed suspicious.

Also, it should point staff to the disciplinary policy.

By creating policies, there is no excuse for ignorance on the employee’s part and knowing that there is a defined procedure may even serve to discourage those who are perhaps not genuinely ill.

Log Absence Efficiently

One of the biggest problems with employee absence is the failure of managers to log occurrences in a timely and accurate manner.

This is not due to incompetence, rather to the lack of a credible system in which to record them.

By failing to log absences, it’s impossible to know whether there are any worrying trends that should be addressed.

Through using HR software, however, managers can quickly open an absence and relinquish the task of closing them to the individual member of staff through employee self-service portals.

The easy capture of absence allows managers to generate real-time reports at the touch of a button, flagging any issues before they become serious problems.

Discourage Presenteeism

Some employees believe that being seen at their desks is the only way to ensure progression.

As such, many will work extremely long hours, a practice that can adversely affect their health.

In addition, some employees, when ill, refuse to take a day off work even when they really need it.

This could actually make them feel worse and require several days’ recovery where just one might have been needed originally.

What’s more, being present in an open office could spread germs to other members of staff and result in half of the team becoming ill.

Consequently, it’s important for managers to discourage presenteeism and encourage employees to go home on time or at the very least, work from home if they have a cold.

Conduct ‘Back-to-Work’ Interviews

Once an employee has returned from their sickness absence, it’s a good idea to hold a short interview with them to ensure that they are indeed fit enough to return to work.

This should comprise questions to determine whether the employee has fully recovered or whether they need to adjust their workload or hours.

Back to work interviews, which should be mentioned in the absence policy, might also serve to dissuade employees from taking ‘a sickie’ and thus reduce absence.


Of course, there are other ways to improve absence, such as introducing staff motivation and well-being initiatives, but the above are a good starting point.

Consider some of these and your time and attendance should improve significantly.

What Are Your Thoughts??

With tough economies, the need for Absence Management becomes a tool to assist the employee as well as retain good help — what processes, protocols, or policies can you add to Finley’s?

Studies have shown that most of the time, employees will tolerate a lot before needing to ‘disappear’ for a day or two, or longer – many even appearing at work when the should stay home. What motivations would you consider helpful when things are just not balancing welll for you?

Abuse with Absence Management or any other managemet program can be had — what suggestions do you have for capping such situations before they become detrimental to both the employer as well as employee?

Please share your thoughts in our comments section below!

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Book Description

Publication Date: 25 July 2011

Absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation. Traditionally, absenteeism has been viewed as an indicator of poor individual performance, as well as a breach of an implicit contract between employee and employer; it was seen as a management problem, and framed in economic or quasi-economic terms. More recent scholarship seeks to understand absenteeism as an indicator of psychological, medical, or social adjustment to work.

This book is your one-stop, ultimate resource for Managing Absenteeism. Here you will find the most up-to-date information, analysis, background and everything you need to know.

In easy to read chapters, with extensive references and links covering all aspects of Managing Absenteeism: Absenteeism, Defense Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection, Department of Defense Whistleblower Program, Huffman v. OPM, Job fraud, No call, no show, Sexual harassment, Sleeping while on duty, Whistleblower, List of topics on working time and conditions, 35-hour workweek, Bank Holidays Act 1871, Beer o’clock, Blue law, Bradford Factor, Break (work), Business day, Business hours, Convention concerning Hours of Work on Board Ship and Manning, Conventions concerning Employment of Women during the Night, Cyberslacking, Day One Christian Ministries, Double burden, Eight-hour day, Feria, Flexplace, Flextime, Forty-Hour Week Convention, 1935, Four-day week, Hot racking, Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention (Revised), 1935, Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention, 1931, Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1930, Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919, Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Convention, 1939 (shelved), Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Convention, 1979, Job sharing, Karo¯shi, Labour Code, Labour law, Labour market flexibility, Long weekend, Medical resident work hours, Money-rich, time-poor, Night Work Conventions, Nonsabbatarianism, Overtime, Overtime rate, Presenteeism, Reduction of Hours of Work (Glass-Bottle Works) Convention, 1935 (shelved), Reduction of Hours of Work (Public Works) Convention, 1936, Reduction of Hours of Work (Textiles) Convention, 1937, Retroactive overtime, ROWE, Sabbath, Saint Monday, Seafarers’ Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention, 1996, Shabbat, Sheet-Glass Works Convention, 1934 (shelved), Shift work, Stopping the clock, Sunday Trading Act 1994, Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003, Superwoman (sociology), Telecommuting, Telework Association, TGIF, Time and attendance, Time clock, Time-and-a-half, Conventions concerning Wages, Hours of Work on Board Ship and Manning, Waiting for the Weekend, Watch system, Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957, Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921, Work at home parent, Work ethic, Work-leisure dichotomy, Work–life balance, Workaholic, Working time, Working Time Directive, Workweek and weekend, Work–life balance (United States), Zero-hour contract.

This book explains in-depth the real drivers and workings of Managing Absenteeism. It reduces the risk of your time and resources investment decisions by enabling you to compare your understanding of Managing Absenteeism with the objectivity of experienced professionals.

Unique, authoritative, and wide-ranging, it offers practical and strategic advice for managers, business owners and students worldwide.

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