click to view mobile Navigation
You are here > How do you manage reoccurring sickness absence

How do you manage reoccurring sickness absence

The annual cost of sickness absence has climbed to almost £29 billion for UK organisations, according to a study published recently by the CIPD. Vocational rehabilitation consultant Katya Halsall offers advice on how to manage this costly problem.

What is the answer?

There are some fundamental things HR practitioners and line managers should demonstrate to ensure they are fair and consistent when it comes to managing sickness absence, particularly recurring sickness absence.

In the first instance, a robust sickness absence management policy needs to be in place. This includes absence reporting and recording procedures, applied equally to all staff. You cannot manage sickness absence if you do not record it.

The frequency and methods of contact between the absent employee and their employer should be agreed between all parties. The employer needs to propose regular reviews to discuss the individual's progress, problems and their return to work plans.

If there is a concern about the length or frequency of the individual's absences from work, there is a possibility that there may be an underlying medical condition, and the employer may wish to engage the employee's treating practitioners or arrange an independent medical assessment.

Return to work interviews
Return to work interviews should be used when managing sickness absence. Some of the topics to discuss with the individual concerned during the interview are:
• Any medication taken or are there any side effects of the medication that might affect the individual's ability to work.
• Whether the individual's treating practitioners have approved their return to work and made any recommendations regarding workplace support required.
• To enquire the employee, what help they may benefit from.
• Any concerns about outstanding workplace issues, such as problems with workplace relationships, outstanding grievances, complaints, etc.

Recurring absences

If sickness absence is recurring, consider if there is a particular pattern or underlying issues:
• Consult the company's alcohol and drug use policy, if required.
• Consider if the individual may have an underlying medical condition that may be causing them to take time off work repeatedly.
• Initiate an open discussion with the individual concerned, enquiring about problems and offering support.
• Suggest requesting their treating practitioners' opinion, if you have concerns about the employee's wellbeing, health or the duration of their sickness absence.

Support mechanisms

Exploring what sort of workplace support may be appropriate includes the following:
• Considering what sort of workplace adaptations may be required, to suit the individual's limitations.
• Offering a phased return to work plan, based on the individual's reported capabilities and limitations.
• Considering amending the individual's duties whilst on a phased return to work.
Identifying an alternative suitable role, if required.
• Arranging regular one-to-one reviews, to discuss progress, support and any problems.

Do not to be afraid of honest discussions with the absent employees, particularly when sickness absence is recurring.

These discussions help to identify return to work barriers and underlying issues, initiating open conversations about any problems and support required. They also help to outline the expectations of all parties involved.

The open discussions encourage employees to voice their concerns and request help. From the employer's point of view, these discussions help to effectively manage and monitor sickness absence, particularly in most complex cases such as recurring absences. It also helps to ensure that the sickness management process is structured, consistent, clear and fair.

Courtesy of Katya Halsall via HR Magazine

< Go Back


Hewett's Support Worcester Full & Half Marathon 2018
We are pleased to announce that Hewett Recruitment will be supporting St Richards Hospice and sponsoring the Worcester Full and Half Marathon 2018 as it enters its seventh year.
04/01/2018 10:38:41

HR Professionals Conference 2017 - Huge Success
With over 100 delegates, this years' HR Conference hosted by Hewett Recruitment and the HW Chamber of Commerce is now the largest HR Conference in Worcestershire.
27/11/2017 16:55:25

Hewett’s once again pledge their support to local Foodbanks
Hewett Recruitment have once again pledged their full support this Christmas with a Foodbank collection initiative aimed at helping the local communities of Worcestershire who have fallen on hard times.
18/10/2017 10:55:56

Hope & Glory Dinner - 29th November 2017
Spectacular Black-Tie 'Proms' Celebration in Bewdley... Flag waving and singing to a 20-piece orchestra - three course dinner
22/09/2017 12:20:40

Hewett’s ‘values’ recognised at staff awards
Hewett’s Annual Family Fun Day and Company Awards took place at the West Midlands Safari Park in July.
31/07/2017 15:50:48


Christmas Legal E-Bulletin - Preparing Your Business for 2018
In the last Employment Law E-Bulletin of 2017, learn how to prepare your business for the new year ahead and the recent employment law developments that should be considered.
18/12/2017 12:50:33

Louises Column - The Warriors Community Foundation
Many of us in business engage and support local causes, to help raise awareness and generate much needed funds for charities and local groups to continue their good work. I'd like to highlight and encourage you to get involved with the great work going on at an exceptional and award winning foundation, The Warriors Community Foundation.
07/12/2017 13:57:01

Legal E-Bulletin - Reimbursement Scheme for Employment Tribunal Fees Announced
Sally Morris, Partner and Head of Employment for mfg Solicitors shares recent declaration about unlawful Employment Tribunal fees and the reimbursement that eligible applicants may be entitled to.
04/12/2017 13:22:02

Louises Column - The Importance of Flexible Working
What to do as a job is the most important life decision that most people will ever have to make. This outranks other life-defining decisions such as where to live, starting a family, or getting married according to a recent survey.
15/11/2017 11:13:09

HR Professionals Conference - Understanding more about the brave new world of jobs!
If you are a business owner, director or HR professional who needs to understand more about what the brave new world of jobs means for skills and business hiring strategies in the future don’t miss the annual HR Professionals Conference.
18/10/2017 11:08:35