National Sickie Day

3 February, 2014
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

We’ve made it through January and commenced the first week of February with National Sickie Day!

Whilst, we make light hearted comments about this day, in reality managing sickness absence is a big concern for employers. It is expected that around 375 000 employees will take the day off today costing employers over £32 million in reduced productivity and lost opportunities.

The first step in managing sickness absence is having a good absence policy in place, which clearly sets out what you require your employees to do when reporting their absence from work. We would suggest that you instruct your employees to personally report their absence (unless they are unable) and speak to their manager or the HR department, detailing the reasons for their absence. Hopefully, having to speak to someone will encourage a greater degree of honesty. It is surprising how many employees will use text messages as a means of reporting their absence. If this is unacceptable to you, make that clear in your policy. Back to work interviews can also serve as a good way to deter short term absence and to keep a record of the reasons for the absence. Many employers use scoring systems, which measure and control employees’ absences, such as the Bradford Factor.

It is worthwhile training managers on managing sickness appropriately. Whilst it is tempting to assume that recurrent short term absences suggest that an employee is taking duvet days and should be disciplined, this may not be the case. A number of short-term absences may be caused by a longer term health issue. If so, the employee may be protected by the disability discrimination legislation. Care should be taken and, if necessary, advice sought, when deciding how to deal with disability related absences. This is not going to be a one size fits all solution.