08 September 2016
Managing employee absence
Employee absences can be both costly and disruptive for businesses. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's 2015 annual survey report on Absence Management, on average people are absent from work for 6.9 days a year, although absence rates vary considerably within and between different sectors.
Whilst most absence from work is genuine, 30 per cent of the organisations surveyed reported that non-genuine absence is a top cause of short-term absence for manual workers and 23 per cent for non-manual workers. There was also an increase in the proportion of organisations including illegitimate absence among their top causes of long-term absence for non-manual workers (14 per cent, compared with 3 per cent in 2014), except in the public sector, where fewer include this among their top causes of absence.
Clearly, it is advisable for employers to have systems in place to measure and analyse employee absence, so problem areas can be identified and the possible causes tackled.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has a step-by-step guide to assist employers in this process. This covers advice on managing short-term and long-term absences, the legal issues involved, a useful example of a real-life scenario where the employer's swift action solved the problem and a 'true or false?' myth-busting section.
Says Chris Brazier: "Dealing with long-term absences, in particular, is a difficult area of the law and each case must be decided on its own merits and proper procedures must be followed. Employers who have not done so for a while are advised to review their absence management policies to make sure they incorporate changes such as the introduction of the Fit for Work advice service.
"If you would like guidance on this topic, we can advise you according to the individual circumstances."