Let’s have a look at our guide to absence management in the workplace.
Getting ill happens. It is unavoidable and something we just have to deal with. If you are an employee at a business, being absent requires you to follow certain workplace rules and the absence management policy. If you are an employer, then managing employee absences can be tricky and requires a clearly defined policy. Having the right procedures in place is vital to ensure the business. This way they will run efficiently while keeping staff healthy, safe, and happy.
But with pitfalls on both sides, how can you manage absences effectively? Read further.
What do you mean by absence management?
Absence management is the process of managing employee sickness in the workplace. Whenever an employee is absent, it is important that procedures are in place to let the business know. This will allow them to provide cover and keep disruption to a minimum. They can also provide support for the employee to ensure they recover as quickly as possible.
But absence management doesn’t just happen during a sickness. A good absence management policy will give guidance on the support the business offer to employees long term. It will also dictate rules over repeat absence. This can be vital to provide an incentive to work and prevent fake illness from occurring.
How should sickness be reported in the UK?
If you are an employee and cannot attend work through sickness, you will need to let your employer know. Most companies will clearly set out how this should happen in their absence management policy. In most cases, a phone call to HR or a line manager will suffice. They will then record the absence and take whatever measures the business needs to reduce disruption.
They may also ask for details of the illness, and how long you expect to be off. If you expect to be absent for more than a few days, they may advise that you see a doctor. They may also give you guidance on things like sick notes, self-certificates, and the support they can give when you return.
What does the law say about absence management?
There are no laws in UK law that govern the process for reporting sickness. Once you report a sickness, however, there are several laws that both employees and employers must abide by. These include:
- If the employee is absent for over 7 days, they will need a ‘sick note’ from a doctor. This will give details of the illness and recommend whether they are fit to return to work.
- If the employee is absent for less than 7 days, the employer will request a ‘self-certificate’. A self-certificate is similar to a sick note and will detail the illness. There is, however, no requirement for a doctor to sign it. The employee will sign the document declaring the facts to be true.
Is it legal to punish staff for absences?
This is a bit of a grey area. Most businesses will implement a code of conduct for absences. This will dictate how many absences an employee can have before the business will issue a warning. In serious cases, the company may dismiss the employee. It is perfectly acceptable for an employee to use such a system to prevent fake illness. If the employee has specific medical needs, however, the employer must show that they have taken every possible measure to support them. If they don’t, then they could lose a wrongful dismissal case at a tribunal.
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