It’s inevitable that your employees will at some point during their employment be absent due to illness. Most ailments last only a day or so – some a week or two – but the policy you have in place for managing absences, your contractual entitlement to sick pay and how you manage absences will all determine the level of impact on the organisation. As a starting point, your absence policy should be issued to all employees and should make clear who they should contact and by what time if they are going to be absent from work. Staff should know the process, how their absence will be monitored and the potential implications.

Here are our top tips to managing short term absences:-

  1. Make sure staff report their absence correctly providing as much information as possible and agreeing the next date/time they should make contact (usually the following morning);
  2. Always hold a return to work meeting (without exception) and complete the return to work proforma, ask yourself if an occupational health referral is needed;
  3. If staff have a GP fit note outlining recommended adjustments you must consider these but ultimately if the adjustments can’t be made during the period of time specified by the GP then the employee remains absent from work until they are fit to return and an Occupational Health Referral is recommended at this stage;
  4. Find out if the absence is as a result of other issues, such as being a carer for a relative, parent of a child with a disability or if the employee has a disability;
  5. Determine with the employee any reasonable adjustments needed. Ensure those adjustments deemed reasonable are implemented and a justification provided for those which cannot be applied;
  6. The absence policy should include trigger points where employees who hit a trigger are invited to attend a meeting with management to discuss the level of absence and staff can choose to be accompanied by a union representative or work colleague;
  7. Monitoring rounds should be applied consistently and attendance targets set at each stage of the absence management process;
  8. Remember you can take positive action to increase or decrease an absence target for an employee with a disability;
  9. Warnings should be issued in line with the organisation’s absence procedure making sure the employee is clear about the implications of further absence outside the agreed target;
  10. Be consistent in your approach to all employees and document everything

If you need help managing short-term absence speak to the SAM team on 01924 827869 or email

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