Effective staff attendance management doesn’t happen overnight but the schools approach, from the top, sets the scene in terms of the importance of the process. For many employees absence is of course genuine and unavoidable, but in some cases a more rigorous approach from management shows instant results in terms of short term one-off absences and the duration of sickness absence.

There are many different ways to approach management but there are some key principles to making it work. Here are our top tips:

Documentation and Communication

  • Commitment to the school’s attendance policy at governor and leadership level is essential so you must make it a priority and review the process regularly;
  • A key member of the leadership team should regularly communicate the process to employees and a copy of the policy should be issued and signed for;
  • Consider who staff should contact when absent and the timescales you set for contacting the school – the more senior the better from our experience.
  • Ensure all staff know that they are required to maintain reasonable contact with the employer during a period of absence.
  • Provide a regular report to governors to show proactive attendance management.

Notification and Recording

  • Record all sickness absence upon notification, employees should be asked the reason for absence and likely timescale for return to work;
  • Agree a method of communication and agree when the employee should contact you again if absence continues;
  • Input absence onto the school’s data recording system specifying the reason for absence (sickness, leave of absence, maternity etc.) and the specific detail i.e. illness type.
  • Ensure employees know when and where to submit GP fit note. It’s fine to make contact with absent employees to remind them submit GP fit notes.


Short and Long Term Absence Management

  • Arrange to meet with all employees on their return to work, regardless of the duration of the absence;
  • Complete a return to work proforma, the content of which should be agreed by both parties as an accurate record of the discussion. Provide the employee with a copy and place a copy on the personnel file;
  • Use your data to monitor absence on a daily basis, picking up those staff who have met the trigger points in the attendance policy;
  • Don’t forget to regularly review those employees who are on monitoring periods, scheduling a further meeting as soon as a target is met.

Leave of Absence

  • Ensure you have a formal leave of absence policy in place which reflects the conditions of service for both teachers and officers;
  • Ask your staff to complete a leave of absence proforma for all absences (including absence for childcare which may need to be retrospective) other than sickness and input leave request onto the school’s data tracking system. That way you can track leave requests alongside sickness absence.


Our Staff Absence Management System (SAM) can help you track absence easily, linking with existing data systems and notifying you when triggers are met and when tasks need to be scheduled. If you would like a free demo, just email us at liam@staffabsencemanagement.co.uk or call 01924 827869.

If you already use SAM, you know how much easier it can make absence management. Whether you are a SAM customer or not, if you’d like us to review your current arrangements for managing staff attendance please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our HR team, that sits behind SAM, can assist with admin, projects, consultancy and attendance clinics. Just call 01924 827869 and speak to one of our friendly team.

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