We consider the main principles of effective absence management. If you are an employer we, at Finnies, can provide you with assistance or any additional information required.
Recent surveys indicate that the adverse impact of absence on business profitability today is significant, with thousands of man hours lost every day. Recent statistics show that an average of 6.6 days are lost each year per employee with a median cost of £609 per employee. Approximately two-thirds of working time lost to absence is accounted for by short-term absences of up to seven days.
We consider below the main principles of effective absence management.
The majority of businesses surveyed (94%) confirm that tightening of policies to review attendance has a major influence on controlling levels of absence, particularly when three fifths of all absence is for minor illness of less than five days duration.
When managing sickness absence issues, employers need to distinguish between short-term and long-term absences. Where the absence consists of short but persistent and apparently unconnected absences then, after suitable investigation, disciplinary action may be appropriate. However, this is not a suitable course of action in relation to longer-term sickness absence management.
There are a number of key steps in managing short-term absence.
The key steps in managing long-term absence include:
Businesses, particularly small businesses, can have significant problems coping when an employee is off work for a long time. There is a very strong evidence base for sickness absence that shows that the sooner the causes of absence are identified, and acted upon, the better. Intervention at four weeks, compared to six months, has a greater impact as an employee is more likely to still have an attachment to work. The longer an employee is off work, the lower their chances of ever returning to work.
The government recognised this was an issue and started a new range of services to help employers and employees in this situation towards the end of 2014. The key element to ‘Fit for Work’ is an independent assessment of an employee which provides a plan helping the employee to get back to work.
The service is delivered by the NHS in Scotland and by a private sector partner in England and Wales. There are no equivalent plans for Northern Ireland.
Visit http://fitforwork.org or http://fitforworkscotland.scot for more information.
The definition of what constitutes a disability can be split into three parts:
The Equality Act 2010 includes new protection from discrimination arising from disability. This includes indirect discrimination, associative discrimination and discrimination by perception.
A person discriminates against a disabled person if:
a person treats a disabled person unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of the disabled person’s disability, and a person cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
However, this does not apply if a person shows that they did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that a disabled person had the disability.
If a medical report identifies a disability, in accordance with the Equality Act, an employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is quite broad and may mean physical adjustments to premises or the provision of equipment to assist the employee in carrying out their duties. It can also mean adjustments to the role itself by removing certain duties and reallocating them, changes in hours or place of work, or the provision of further training and supervision. It may also include transferring to any other vacant post subject to suitability.
In other words quite a number of steps are required of an employer if they are to establish a fair dismissal for capability in relation to an employee who has been absent for a long term of sickness.
Please contact us at Finnies if we can provide any further assistance or additional information on managing absence.
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