Regular attendance at work is an integral part of every employee’s contract of employment. However, it is recognised that there are occassions when employees will have genuine and acceptable health reasons to be absent from work. The following tips provide guidance for supporting employees and managing those whose absence levels give cause for concern.
1. Are your employee’s aware of your School’s Attendance Management Policy?
In order to minimise absence levels across the school it is important to ensure that you have an up-to-date Attendance Management Policy in place. This should provide a fair and consistent framework for managing attendance and be reviewed on a regular basis. The policy should be communicated to all employees and be stored centrally for them to access. It is good practice to share this annually, possibly at the start of each Academic Year when you are sharing other important documentation. This is a good reminder of their responsibilities regarding attendance at work and the process to be followed should they fall ill.
2. Do your line managers understand their role when dealing with short-term sickness absence?
Is your School’s policy clear as to who does what in terms of the process and have line managers received the appropriate training to deal with absence?
Who is responsible for?
- Informing employees of the attendance management procedures including the conditions of the sick pay scheme.
- Recording all sickness absence upon notification.
- Meeting with employees on their return to work, regardless of the duration of the absence.
- Monitoring and reviewing sickness absence across the School.
- Holding a review meeting with an employee when their sickness absence level has reached a trigger point.
- Maintaining reasonable contact with employees during a period of absence.
3. Have you outlined the process to employees’ for reporting sickness absence?
The purpose of having a clear reporting process is to ensure that the School can make appropriate arrangements to minimise the impact of sickness absence. You should be clear about what the reporting procedure is. It is good practice to require employees to report their absence in person, to a specific contact and avoid the use of leaving a recorded message or sending a text message. Employees should be aware that failure to follow this procedure may result in sick pay being withheld and/or the absence being treated as an unauthorised absence.
4. Do you carry out return to work meetings following every absence?
Following a period of sickness absence it is good practice to require the employee to attend a return to work interview.Ideally this should be done on the employee’s first day back to work.If this isn’t possible it should be held within three days of their return to work.
Employees should be made aware at this stage if their absence level is nearing or has reached a trigger under the policy and if a further, more formal, meeting will be required.
5. How do you manage pregnancy and disability?
Remember that employees who are pregnant or have a disability should be dealt with differently to other employees. Under the Equality Act you should seek to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for employees who have a disability to ensure that your workplace or practices do not disadvantage them.
6. Do you seek medical advice via occupational health?
To get the most out of your Occupational Health referrals ensure that you provide as much information as possible on the referral form. Providing detailed information on the following areas will allow your OH physician to report on the key issues:
- Information about your particular school
- The employees role, hours of work, work patterns and any aspects of the role which may cause the employee a problem
- A detailed breakdown of the employees absence history
- Any adjustments and support that you have already put in place
7. Do you know your triggers for attendance management?
School’s use different trigger points, such as The Bradford Factor, to review employees’ attendance. You should ensure that your triggers are clearly stated in your Attendance Management policy and that these are also communicated to staff.
When considering trigger points, the circumstances of the employee should be carefully and sensitively considered in order to treat all employees fairly, consistently and compassionately.
It is common practice to have 3 stages of review, where each stage could lead to a warning being issued and stage 3 could result in dismissal.
8. Are employees given the right of appeal?
Remember that if you issue an absence warning following a trigger point meeting the employee should be given the right of appeal.
If you would like to learn about more tips to reduce absence and effectively manage absence in schools then book onto our Attendance Management Training Course. This will help you to proactively manage staff absence in your school.
We would also recommend you book a free demonstration of our bespoke absence software for schools if you haven’t already. Our SAM software can help track staff absence in schools, highlighting who is hitting triggers. Many schools are already seeing reductions of up to 62%* year on year when they effectively use the software and it saves time too. Call 01924 827869 to arrange a free demonstration.
*62% is based on an average across the top three schools who have effectively used SAM since September 2015. Measurement was taken across Autumn and Spring terms to show the number of days being saved.