Managing short-term work absences

Short-term work absences

Short-term work absences might not seem like a big deal. But constant disruptions can cost employers significantly. 

Why? Loss of productivity, the cost of replacement staff, the detriment to the working culture and more.

Although there will always be workers who take advantage of their situation. Sometimes what can seem like ‘pulling the led’ can often be an illness or disability. In these cases, employers must offer the appropriate help to keep their employees at work and safe. 

Today we’re going to be looking at short-term absence. The reasons. Ways we can reduce it. And the ways we need to ensure we do not discriminate.

What is short term absence?

Short-term absences are defined as absences from work for less than 20 working days within a rolling 12-month period.

There might be a variety of reasons for absence, including:

  • Short- and long-term illness, including mental health issues, 
  • Medical visits for a child, partner, or family
  • Illnesses and appointments linked to pregnancy, including IVF,
  • Weather or travel interruptions 
  • Bereavement 

Steps you can take to stop short-term absence

1. Effective absence monitoring

There must be a mechanism in place to track absences and properly manage them.

The system should track absences of all kinds, including lateness, no-shows and sickness. 

Reporting should be possible, to give you an overview of your absence as a company, department or individual. 

2. Absence policies

Making sure you have an up-to-date absence policy is vital.

not only will this outline exactly what is expected of your employees in regards to absence. Nut it will cover you for any employee disciplinaries or tribunals. 

Ensure this document is available to all, and adhere to it as fairly as possible to avoid bias. 

3. A full-package

Without a return to work scheme, training, and positive work culture, absences will continue to go unchecked.

Disciplining culprits is one thing. But helping find a cure to the absence is the answer. 

You need a full-package approach to short-term work absences.

Flexible working, light duties and the cooperation of your management are all options needed to help get your staff working to their best ability.

And remember, everyone’s ability is different. Some may work a 9-5 shift without issues, while others might struggle. 

Finding the right balance for your workforce is how you’ll find the best productivity and minimise absences. 

4. Short-term work absences punishment 

Following the Absence Policy, you need to make sure that your disciplinary action is proportionate and fair. 

Too harsh a punishment for a first-time absence or absences out of your employee’s hands could result in a breakdown of the employee relationship.

You also need to ensure that the punishment is not discriminatory or unjustified. 

For instance, if you have an employee who is pregnant, they cannot be punished for taking time to see the doctor or midwife. 

If however, you have an employee who consistently has frequent absences that are unjustified. You have followed the absence policy, tried to help and still see no results. Dismissal may be the only option.

In this case, ensure you have the reporting paperwork to back up your actions – in case of an employment tribunal. 

Disability-related absences

When implementing or designing a short-term work absences policy, make sure to include references to the Equality Act.

Disability and pregnancy are both protected under the Act. And any disability-related absence separated from regular sickness management. 

Some absence tracking systems may be discriminatory since they are particularly tough on employees who take frequent, short absences.

Employers must make reasonable adaptations in the workplace if an employee has a disability.

When working with disability-related absenteeism, Employers must provide adaptable solutions and treat each case as unique to the person.

Conclusion for short-term work absences

Ongoing and unchanging short-term absences should be managed swiftly. 

Either by following your absence policy process if the absence is unjustified. Or by creating a better working environment for the worker if it is. 

Ensure unbiased actions or sporadic treatment. 

Make sure you’re on top of absence and have the information you need. Check out an Absence Management system like Employee Attendance Cloud. 

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