Four Tips for Managing Sickness Absence

It’s inevitable that from time to time, your members of staff will get sick. It’s to be expected, and it’s something that you can’t really avoid as you grow your business and your workforce.


As an employer though, you need to be sure that you’re managing your sickness policies and procedures in the right way. Without a robust approach, you could quickly find that sickness absence is seriously damaging productivity, and in turn, your profits.


So what’s the solution? Check out these four tips for ensuring that you’re covered.


1. Create a clear policy so staff know what it expected of them


Your sickness and absence policy should cover how and when staff should notify the business that they need to take time off, details around provisions for return to work interviews, and any links to other relevant policies such as disciplinary procedures.

A policy isn’t worth anything if it isn’t clearly communicated and implemented. Be sure that your line managers are onboard, and have any necessary training that they might need.


2. Understand the role of your employee’s GP


The ‘sick note’ is now a thing of the past. Instead, GPs provide a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’, otherwise known as a ‘fit note’. Instead of focusing on what the individual can’t do, it’s centered around the tasks that they are able to carry out, which can be really helpful to you as an employer.


Be as supportive as you can, and remember that there will often be low-cost solutions that can help your member of staff to get back to work.


3. Consider how you’ll support staff when they return to work


If an employee has been off for a lengthy amount of time, or they’re still not quite feeling 100%, you need to give some careful thought to how you can ensure that they have the right support when they return. Otherwise, it can be exceptionally daunting for them, and you could run into some serious problems.


In practical terms, there are quite a few possible solutions here. Treat each case individually, and always liaise with the employee to discuss their needs and preferences. You might offer a phased return, reduced working hours for a set period of time, or extra assistance with carrying out tasks.

Our partner breatheHR have recently shared insight on 5 reasonable adjustments you can make for employees suffering from mental ill-health.


4. Be proactive rather than reactive


Dealing with sickness issues is much harder than preventing them in the first place. There are positive changes you can make to how you promote physical and emotional wellbeing in the workplace, and these are far more effective than efforts to problem solve once the damage has already been done.


Could you change working patterns so workers get enough sleep and aren’t left feeling tired and stressed out? Could you bring in a package of more flexible benefits that include things like health care or gym memberships? How about upskilling your management team so they can spot problems like stress and take action to rectify them? A creative and proactive approach could do wonders for your business.


HJS Human Resources are here if you’re experiencing problems with sickness absence. We help employers to put good processes in place that benefit everyone in the organisation. Call us on 01722 325833 for a no-obligation chat about your business.

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