Managing Sickness Absence

It is inevitable that sickness absence occurs, however, with clear policies and procedures businesses will be able to manage sickness.

It is recommended that you require staff to phone their manager, or nominated person, by their normal starting time. They should provide basic information such as:

  • First day of sickness
  • Reason for their sickness
  • How long they anticipate they will be absent from duty
  • Anything that the business should be aware of whilst them are absent eg appointments to be rearranged

For absences up to 7 days, staff should complete a self certification, and thereafter a ‘Fit note’ from their doctors.

Majority of staff will be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay for days which they are normally contracted to work, after an absence of 4 or more days sickness in a row. Statutory Sick Pay is available for a maximum of 28 weeks. The current rate is £86.70 per week as long as the employee earns £109 (before tax) each week.

If an employee is not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay you will need to issue them with a form SSP1 within 7 days of their reported illness. This will enable the employee to apply for Employment and Support Allowance instead.

In order to manage sickness absence you need to collect the data so that you can continually monitor absences.

This data should be kept in a ‘user friendly’ format. These records will enable you to spot any patterns eg days/dates and reasons for absences. This will identify when you need to meet with staff to discuss their sickness absence and how the company may be able to assist them if appropriate.

If an issue arises where you need to discuss an employee’s sickness absence the first step should be a 1:1 meeting to discuss their health and recent absences. At the meeting you should discuss the frequency of their absences, the reasons and any under-lying causes, and what can be done to prevent or reduce the number of sickness absence days in the future.

If the reasons are legitimate you should discuss what, if any, reasonable adjustments may need to be implemented. You may need to look at the job itself, working hours, or location to help the employee return to work and manage their health.

If the reasons are unsatisfactory you should explain this to the employee and explain that you will be instigating a disciplinary hearing to investigate the matter further. You should notify them that you will be in touch and will write to them to confirm the time and date of the hearing in accordance with the company disciplinary policy. You would then follow the steps detailed in your Disciplinary Policy.

To access a copy of our Sickness Absence Policy template please click here.