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Sickness Absence Management

Posted in Employers on Mar 12, 2012 by Richard Hayden

Managing staff brings with it many problems for small businesses. One of the most costly and difficult to manage is sickness absence. Guest Blogger Julia Turner of Turner Consulting, HR Specialist discusses how to effectively manage sickness absence.

The impact of sickness absence on a small business can be great – but managed effectively the effects can be significantly reduced.


Here are 5 tips to help manage sickness absence in your business:

Look for patterns
Identifying the reason for the absence will help you to understand how to deal with it appropriately. It will also help you to assess if the absence is genuine. It is worth looking for patterns in absence – do absences occur during a particular shift? On a certain day of the week? When a particular task is required? Or when working with a particular member of staff?

Always conduct a return to work interview
This is the employer’s opportunity to understand the nature of the absence and to identify if there are any underlying health issues. Is there something that you, as an employer, can do to reduce the number of sickness absence days? Is there equipment you can provide? Or are there issues which require further investigation such as bullying? A return to work interview will also allow you to assess whether or not disciplinary action may be necessary. And if employees know that a return to work interview will be carried out for every absence it may encourage them to change their behaviour

Keep in touch with employees who are absent
Employers are often worried about contacting employees when they are absent from work – but, done sensitively (and in-line with any medical advice) contact with employees can help to keep them engaged with the business during a period of absence. You should make sure your Absence Management Policy includes reference to maintaining regular contact during absences.

Keep records

Keeping good records is a key element in managing sickness absence. All contact with the employee should be recorded. This will help you to see any patterns in sickness absence, and in the case of any long term absences it will help you to make decisions and help your case if the issue ever went as far as an employment tribunal

Ensure your employment management policies are clear and up to date

Your employment management policies are your most important tool when dealing with sickness absence. Clear guidelines set out in your policies mean that both you and your employees are aware of the process that will be followed and the any possible outcomes. Having these policies in place and managing all sickness absence in line with them will help you to reduce the instances of sickness in the long term and significantly reduce its effects.


This information is a general statement of law and is not applicable to any particular individual or set of circumstances and should not be substituted for advice.


If you would like to know more about Turner Consulting and the services they provide please visit

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