In an ideal world…….you’d be on top of return to work meetings, your absence admin would be up to date and filed neatly and all absence review meetings would be scheduled with staff who have hit triggers or exceeded targets.

Meanwhile, back in the real world… staff absence is spiralling through the roof and you’re surrounded by absence paperwork. It can feel overwhelming and knowing where to start is the key to clearing the backlog. Here are our top tips to approach staff absence management if you have a backlog:-

  • Ensure you have a robust staff attendance policy in place which includes triggers points to guarantee consistency of approach;
  • Separate absences into short and long term in line with your procedure, long-term absences are usually classed as a period of four weeks or more, short-term absences are intermittent and would be filtered using the triggers within your policy;
  • If you haven’t done so already, refer staff who are long-term absent to an Occupational Health Physician or Nurse and inform them of the referral, arranging a long-term absence review when the report is received;
  • If you have too many short-term absences to cope with you have a number of options to filter short-term absences in terms of priority such as; highest to lowest on the organisational structure, posts with the highest impact, highest number of days absence or alphabetical name order;
  • Seek support from your HR provider who may attend review meetings with staff;
  • Remember that the absences continue to roll and this is an on-going process;
  • If you haven’t already done so, discard your excel spread-sheet and consider investing in a bespoke absence management software package to make life simpler.

If you have already invested in Staff Absence Management (SAM for short), it can help you to manage staff attendance through:-

  • A full case management tracker and print case functionality;
  • Automatic traffic light alerts and notifications for attendance triggers;
  • SAM default attendance triggers, the Bradford Factor formula or set your own bespoke triggers;
  • Task management and email notifications to remind you of key tasks;
  • Reporting suite showing annual, termly, departmental and line manager comparisons for easy identification of trends;
  • Document store for uploading Doctor’s notes, messages and letters;
  • Quick glance absence calendar;
  • User preference settings – School Manager, School Administrator, Department Manager;
  • The ability to mail-merge branded attendance letters and forms;
  • A defined process for everyone, that can be tracked, used as evidence and will help prevent claims of discrimination;
  • Access to a wide range of model policies, absence documents and templates available to download.

If you would like help with absence policies, attendance surgeries with a qualified HR consultant or occupational health referrals please contact our sister company, FusionHR on 01924 827869 or email The team will be happy to discuss your needs and see where we can help.

If you are interested in seeing how SAM can help you manage absence we can provide a free no-obligation demo. Call 01924 827869 and ask for a demo to be arranged or email

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