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					ISSUE 7
Sickness and Absenteeism
Improve efficiency and save money by
properly managing sickness and absenteeism.

We will all be ill at some time during our working lives and                              4 Avondale Road
we all expect to be treated fairly by our employer if we are                                         Fleet
ill. However, absenteeism is a difficult problem for business                                  Hampshire
with a significant impact on profits.                                                           GU51 3BH
According to the CIPD’s latest employee absence survey, on
average sickness absence costs employers £666 per                                 Tel/Fax: 01252 620 423
employee every year, and 8 working days for every member                           Mobile: 07887 803531
of staff per year; this represents 3.5% of working time.                          Email:
It is important, therefore, for organisations to actively
manage absence. There are two separate issues to consider:
    Ÿ   the employee who has been off work for a long period
        of time due to ill health or disability;
    Ÿ   the employee who takes short term absences on a
        regular basis.
Both of these require different management.
WATCH OUT!                                                                                         ISSUE 7
    §   Remember you are subject to                the   Disability     Sickness and Absenteeism
        Discrimination Act 1995. (“DDA”)                                          Page 1 : Issues Summary
                                                                                             Page 2 : FAQs
    §   If an employee has any physical or mental impairment
        which has or is likely to last for a long period of time,
        and has substantial or long term effects on their ability
        to carry out their normal day to day activities, the
        employee may be considered disabled for the purpose
        of DDA.      Employees suffering from cancer, HIV
        infection or multiple sclerosis will be classed as disabled.

    §   You need to be particularly careful not to treat that
        person less favourably than any other employee. If
        you dismiss an employee on the basis of their disability,
        this is not only unfair but is likely to result in a
        discrimination claim with an award of compensation
        which is potentially unlimited.

There are procedures and techniques that can help manage
sickness and other absence.        Fleet HR can offer
recommendations and implement techniques to help deal
with this most common problem.
    Ÿ   Suggest appropriate balances between improving
                                                                       In the Series...
        employee attitudes and implementing legitimate                 1 : HR and Legal Compliance Audit
        punitive measures to reduce unnecessary absence;               2 : Recruitment and Selection
    Ÿ   Advise on how you can minimise the cost of                     3: Employment Contracts & HR Policies
        absenteeism;                                                   4 : Disciplinary and Grievance
    Ÿ   Provide absence policies and procedures tailor made to         5 : Redundancy and Dismissal
                                                                       6 : Equal Opportunities & Diversity
        your business;
                                                                       7 : Sickness and Absenteeism
    Ÿ   Advise on application of these policies to the work-force.     8 : Compromise Agreements
    Ÿ   Provide advice in the event of it being necessary to           9 : Health and Safety
        investigate and deliver action as described by your            10 : Transfers of Business
        policy.                                                        11 : Employment Tribunals
                                                                       12 : Recession Proofing
Sickness and Absenteeism
Frequently Asked Questions

What types of absence are there?
There are many reasons why people take time off work. These can be categorised as:
Ÿ Short-term sickness absence (uncertificated, self-certificated or with a doctor’s
Ÿ Long-term sickness absence;
Ÿ Unauthorised absence or persistent lateness;
Ÿ Other authorised absences eg annual leave; maternity, paternity, adoption, or parental
Ÿ Time off for public or trade union duties;
Ÿ Compassionate leave and time off to care for dependents;
Ÿ Educational leave.

Should I be measuring absence?
Yes. A key element of managing absence effectively is accurate measurement and monitoring. An
organisation must assess if it has a problem with absence, its extent and the best way to tackle it.

What can absence measurement tell me?
Employers should collect and use data to identify particular patterns of absence and underlying
causes, for example, the management style of a particular manager or an increase in workloads. It
can also provide evidence of how absence impacts on the bottom line and why it is worth investing
in an effective absence management programme.

How can I measure absence?
There are a number of measures that can be used to assess absence, each of which gives
information about different aspects of absence. Fleet HR can advise on the most appropriate
measures for your business.

How can I manage absence more effectively?
The first step to managing absence effectively is to ensure that you have a clear policy in place that
supports your organisation’s business objectives and culture. If you don’t have such a policy, Fleet
HR can help you devise and implement one.

What does the law say about this?
Legislation requires employers to provide staff with information on ‘any terms and conditions
relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provision for sick pay’.
Effective absence policies must spell out employees’ rights and obligations when taking time off from
work due to sickness.

What should my managers be doing to manage absence?
Line managers have an important role to play, either directly or indirectly, in the interventions to
reduce absence levels. Managers need good communications skills to encourage employees to
discuss any problems they may have at an early stage so that employees can be given support or
advice before matters escalate. But despite the importance placed on line manager/supervisor
involvement, only just over 50% of organisations train their line managers in the skills needed to
do this effectively! You should make sure your organisation has sufficient and effective training.

What about sickness absence related to pregnancy?
Employers should record pregnancy-related sickness absence separately from other sickness
absences. Employers have no obligation to provide different sick-pay provision for women who take
time off work for reasons related to their pregnancy. However an employer who includes absence
related to pregnancy in any assessment of a worker’s sickness record, for example in a redundancy
exercise or for disciplinary reasons, will be vulnerable to a claim of sex discrimination.

Where can I find further help?
The ACAS Code on Discipline and Grievance provides tools for facilitating absence management. For
advice tailored to your specific business needs, give us a call on 01252 620423.