Absence management policies.

Staff absences can be costly to a business. Mental health absences alone cost employers around £7billion per year. In 2018 17.5m working days were lost to work-related stress, depression and anxiety.

When considering physical health issues too, alongside the cost of presenteeism, care giving, sickness absence and reduced productivity, the economic impact of sickness absence is over £100billion annually.

Taking a proactive approach towards managing absences is fundamental for your organisation. It helps to ensure that you’re fulfilling your legal obligations as an employer, including the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) for example.

It will also help to protect your organisation’s interests and productivity. You’ve hired an employee because you require work doing, so when that employee is absent, the lost productivity will be damaging to your organisation’s end goal.

Finally, as an organisation you have a duty of care towards an employee. If an employee has a disability which is covered by the Equality Act (2010) then you also have further obligations towards ensuring the employee has reasonable adjustments put in place to help them with their work. A proactive approach to managing absences helps an employee to remain in work wherever possible, and ensure that they receive the support they need when their health is suffering. It also ensures that if they’re no longer able to complete the role due to poor health, that this is assessed and communicated appropriately, so that all expectations can be managed and the employee can be guided through the process of facing this reality.

So it’s crucial to your business that you have a robust absence management policy. This is a policy that helps your organisation to take a consistent and fair approach towards managing your employee absences. It will help you to define what level of absence can be considered acceptable by your business, and what level of absence would go beyond acceptable thresholds. It will also help to define what actions you should take when a member of staff is absent either short-term, or long term, or if absences are becoming too frequent. Examples may include referrals to occupational health or different stages of absence management procedures.

Additionally a robust absence management policy will also include the supportive measures that can be taken by an employer to ensure that their team have access to any support and wellbeing that may be needed to help the employee.

Making such a policy available to staff will ensure they understand your process clearly, and know what to expect when they are absent from work. It should set out a clear set of expectations, making the relationship between employee and employer as unambiguous as possible.

At the Smart Clinic we know that it is advantageous for all parties if an employer has a robust absence management policy. It keeps things clear, easy to follow and protective of both business and employee. So we’ve partnered with the team at Primed to develop a completely free absence management policy template which you can use for your organisation.

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