16th September 2021

Managing staff absence

Peninsula knows how frustrating employee absences can be for employers. That’s why they’ve outlined how to effectively manage absences in this helpful article, by Moira Grassick


Managing Employee Absences


One of your employees calling in sick or saying they can’t make it in but not specifying why can not only be frustrating but disruptive.

While a sick or stress leave of absence, or an employee requesting an extended break for another health reason isn’t uncommon, it can upset the flow of your business. But how you react to each case of absence can make all the difference.

To find out how best you can handle staff absences, read on…

Put an absence policy in place
First things first, your employee absence management policy. This policy should outline how sickness-related absences will be dealt with and should specify what period of time forms:

  • Short-term absence
  • Long-term absence
  • Unauthorised absence

When your absence policy is complete, share it with your employees. Doing so ensures your employees know how each instance of absence will be handled and what procedure will be followed.

Furthermore, having an absence policy in place will ensure consistency. This is crucial as it protects you from any employee claims.


How to reduce sickness absence in the workplace
Return to work interview

One of the simplest ways of reducing sickness absence is to conduct a ‘return to work’ interview. This conversation will bring to light any issues an employee has, whether that’s personal or work-related. It may mean you alter their work hours, allow them to work from home, or take time off for medical appointments.

To watch a short video about managing employee sickness and absence follow this link:


Record keeping

Record keeping is another useful practice. The benefit of tracking employee absences is that patterns will appear. For instance, does one of your employees always miss the Friday of a Bank Holiday? Or say they’re feeling unwell the Monday they’re due in after a week off?

Monitoring absences will make patterns easier to spot and provides you with proof if you need to speak to the employee. In the end, the reoccurring absences may be something an employee needs help with, so approach the situation cautiously.


Lastly, but by no means of the least importance, is communication. Whether it’s a short- or long-term absence, it’s important that you reach out to the absent individual. You can do so by phone, email, and in some cases, a home visit. Getting in touch will give you an insight into their illness and how long they think they’ll be absent for. It will also help you prepare for their return, the kind of preparation that will put both of your minds at ease.

As you can see, managing long-term sickness absences, or any leave of absence doesn’t have to be complicated. Just approach each case individually, assess the situation, and help your employee where you can.


To download Peninsula’s free long term sick leave guide, follow this link:


What about dismissal due to sickness absence?
In extreme cases, such as long-term sickness, dismissal for absence may be considered.

If you do decide to go down the dismissal route, you’ll need to show that the procedure used was fair and reasonable. Failure to follow fair procedures could leave your business open to a claim for unfair dismissal.

When dismissing an employee because of medically certified incapacity, certain criteria must be met, including:

You have all material facts concerning the employee’s sickness.
You must have given the employee enough notice that their capability to fulfil their role is being investigated and may lead to dismissal.
You must have given the employee the option to influence your decision.
You must be seen to offer reasonable accommodations for the employee to return to work.
In certain cases, the employee’s long-term sickness may have been the result of work activities. In this event, it’s still possible that this may lead to dismissal which may require specialist advice.


Looking for further advice on managing staff absences?
Understanding how to manage absence effectively ensures your business can respond as quickly and strongly as possible to any unexpected situations. So, for further guidance on how best to manage staff absences so that they don’t upset your business operations, speak to a

Peninsula HR expert  on 1800 719 222.

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