Sybil, who is a dedicated loyal part-time employee, has worked for her employer for over 20 years and has been issued with an absence warning. She was targeted on a monitoring round and she has exceeded its absence triggers.

The employee had previously always had good attendance until her grand-puppies came on the scene and kindly shared their bugs with their grandma. The employee was devastated to be invited to a formal meeting to discuss her attendance. Who could she turn to for advice and support? So she asked her daughter, who then felt guilty for the fact that her mum had caught her puppies’ illnesses and that she was now invited to a formal meeting, an unfamiliar territory for grandma.

The absence process can feel extremely personal for employees (particularly grandma) but the sole purpose of the process is to ensure fair and consistent treatment of all staff. Yes, grandma is (and continues to be) a hard working loyal employee and there was no doubt about the legitimacy of her absences. However, her employer (as a fair and reasonable employer) had an obligation to address her attendance and ensure that measures were put in place to improve her attendance.

We appreciate that from an employee perspective absence monitoring can feel unfair and often employees argue that the employer is penalising its good staff in order to tackle those employees (usually the minority) who are genuinely ill. However, if you do not apply the same process across all staff, you leave yourself open to criticism of differential treatment which could result in discrimination claims. As an employer, you have two options when it comes to absence management: either (1) don’t manage any absences (which does not resolve the issue and is poor HR practice) or (2) apply your attendance management policy fairly and consistently across your workforce.

So, back to grandma: after a lengthy discussion with her HR Advisor explaining the reasons for the policy and its application, grandma understood the reasons why her employer had to apply its attendance management policy. Grandma may not have been happy but she could appreciate why the policy is in place. Grandma successfully improved her attendance and now that the puppies are older they don’t share their bugs as often!

If you need help with managing absence and monitoring rounds, please get in touch on 01924 827869. SAM helps manage absence by identifying when employees hit triggers and helping you manage and track monitoring rounds, getting staff back to work quicker. Ask for a free demo today!

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