In every office employees take sick leave at some point but how do you record sickness absence and why do SMEs like yourself need to bother? In this blog we look at reasons why monitoring sickness absence benefits your business and give some advice on the kinds of things you can do for managing the sickness absence process.
Why do I need to monitor sickness absence?
You may be wondering why you need to monitor sickness absence at all; well Fit for Work has identified the following reasons why recording sickness absence can help you:
• Minimise disruption to the rest of your team and business – you can plan cover for absent employees
• Identify patterns of absences – is there a work-related issue contributing to absences?
• Ensuring accurate payment – statutory or contractual sick pay?
• Determine whether reasonable adjustments are needed to help the employee return to work
How do manage sickness absence?
1 Have an established process for calling in sick
Set out who the employee needs to contact if they are absent, a desired time frame of notice (i.e. call in before 8.30) and an explanation of why they are off and when they expect to return. If the return date is unknown then lay out that the employee needs to call in every day with an update.
Also, outline what methods of communication are not accepted i.e. emails or text messages.
2 Keep in contact with absent employees and plan for their return
When your employee is absent for longer than a week it is always best practice to keep in touch with them. This way there is a climate of trust and it is much easier for the employee to return to work. Without keeping in contact the employee may feel out of touch and undervalued.
3 Conduct return-to-work interviews
The Health and Safety Executive explain how a Return-to-Work Interview gives you the chance to welcome your employee back to work, confirm that their record of absence is correct and enables them to raise any remaining health or other issues that need addressing with your support.
4 Record the information and conversations
Keep a record of any absences on a personnel file. It doesn’t have to be too comprehensive but keep a record of dates of absences along with return-to-work forms and conversations had during the time off. It always helps from a HR and legal point of view but also just for your reference and keep track of any patterns emerging.
Benefits of having a sickness absence procedure in place
Sick absence monitoring and management isn’t just for big businesses, the SME can benefit by having such procedures in place. Benefits could include:
• Improved business performance
• Retention of valued staff
• Safe and healthy workplaces
• Better workplace relations
We trust this article has provided some food for thought on having some kind of sickness monitoring process in place within your company. Not only does help with the structural organisation of having cover but it also ensures better workplace relationships and a heightened sense of pastoral care which is often lacking in large organisations.
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