Setting up procedures for measuring absence and sickness in the workplace allows you to identify:
- how much working time has been lost
- where absence occurs the most, eg among particular types of worker or department
- how often individual workers are absent
- whether there is a pattern of absence, eg where a worker regularly calls in sick on a Friday
It will also show whether the absence is:
- due to short-term sickness and certificated
- due to short-term sickness and uncertificated
- due to long-term sickness
- not sickness-related and authorised
- not sickness-related, but unauthorised
With this information, you should be able to take the appropriate action to improve workplace absence and sickness levels.
Reasons for employee absence
Reasons for unauthorised absence can be personal, eg due to domestic problems, or work-related, eg due to verbal abuse from customers or heavy workloads and, in turn, increased levels of stress.
Consider improving such conditions by:
- examining job design
- using temporary staff during busy periods
- developing policies and procedures to tackle anti-social behaviour against public-facing staff
- offering flexible working patterns, training and promotion opportunities, staff incentives, etc
- offering employees training on managing work related stress
- managers receiving training on managing stress in the workplace
Return-to-work interviews can be an effective way of collecting absence data. Carried out sensitively, they can help establish:
- if there is a hidden real reason for a worker's absence, eg workplace bullying or domestic problems
- f they are ready to return to work
- whether there is any underlying medical condition
- the likelihood of any recurrence of the problem/illness
- if there is an absence problem
- whether any action is required and allow the employer to explain the consequences of any further absences
- if medical referral is necessary
- whether a disability exists
Keeping sickness and absence records
Prior to 6 April 2014 under regulation 7 (13) of Schedule 4 to the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001, an employer had to keep wage records for all employees.
Regulation 13 of the SSP General Regulations 1982, as amended by Regulations 3 of the Social Security Contributions, Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1996, required an employer to keep sick absence records for each employee for each year.
With effect from 6 April 2014 regulation 13 was revoked and employers are no longer required to keep records of sickness absence.
Regulation 13A is still in force and an employer may be required to produce records to show statutory sick pay has been paid to their employees. See statutory sick pay forms and record-keeping.