Employee sickness is an inevitability, but it is vital to maintain a continuously healthy and productive workforce.

Managing employee sickness is often difficult for employers and can result in high costs if not managed effectively. It is important that employers implement staff absence management policies to manage workplace sickness reasonably and fairly.

1. Sickness absence policy:

Having a clear and concise sickness absence policy is the first step in effectively managing absence at work. A sickness absence policy will allow the employer to list important information related to workplace sickness, such as information on sick pay, the organisation’s commitment to helping employees return to work, arrangements for recording sickness absence and procedures for keeping in contact with staff on sick leave and what is expected from the employee.

2. Reporting absence:

It is important that employees understand the procedure when reporting an absence. This should be included in the absence policy and be easily accessible by all employees. Although it is often tempting to allow sickness absence to be paid as annual leave, this will make it difficult to manage employee absence patterns. Personal sickness is the only type of absence that qualifies for Statutory Sick Pay. If other absences are categorised as sickness, the absence records within the organisation will not be reliable this can result in staff being treated unfairly.

3. Return to work interviews:

UK organisations rank return to work interviews among the most effective methods of managing short-term and long-term absence (CIPD Absence Management Survey 2016). Return to work interviews carry a clear message that absence is managed efficiently and often reduces unacceptable short-term absence. When it comes to long-term absence, return to work interviews help organisations to identify the employee’s situations, assess their needs and plan a phased return to work if required. Return to work interviews should also be a part of the organisation’s sickness absence policy.

4. Occupational health support:

Organisations that provide a workplace occupational health service can provide professional advice to help and protect the health of employees. Occupational health services will promote and maintain the health and well-being of employees as well as ensuring a positive relationship between the employee and the workplace. Occupational health professionals can help with return to work programmes, provide advice to staff that are unable to work due to sickness and can support employers to carry out reasonable adjustments – such as modified workstations etc.

5. Recording and managing staff absence:

As well as explaining how to report an absence, organisations should also provide employees with guidance on procedures for recording and managing an absence. Recording sickness absence can help with minimising the disruption caused by absences, e.g. arranging cover for absent employees, will also enable an organisation to identify patterns or causes of absence that may be work-related and will help in determining whether the employee requires any return to work adjustments.

6. Employing a monitoring system:

Manual methods such as paper documentation can be highly inefficient through the likelihood of paper being misplaced, easily manipulated, vulnerability to human error and time-consuming to complete, which simply adds to the cost of absence.

Cohort Software the leading edge occupational health system not only automates the common tasks associated with employee sickness absence, it regulates procedures and allows for easy reporting to highlight trends and areas for attention. Cohort’s unique functionality will enable you to reduce your sickness absence rate and the time it takes to monitor, track and control. Get in touch today to arrange a demo of Cohort Version 10.