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Managing Absence In The Workplace

Employee absence is a significant cost to businesses. Effective absence management involves finding a balance between providing support to help employees with health problems stay in and return to work, and taking consistent and firm action against employees who try to take advantage of organisations’ occupational sick pay schemes.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found in their 2015 Absence Management survey that the overall median cost of absence was over £550 per year, per employee. (

They found that two-fifths of organisations who took part in the survey reported that stress-related absence in their organisation had increased over the previous year, with workload being the most common cause of stress.

  • Is your business doing enough to manage absence?
  • Do you have any policies or procedures in place?
  • Are your managers aware and trained in applying these policies and procedures?
  • Have you taken advantage of the government's new Fit for Work Scheme?

Open communication is key to getting someone back to work after long term sickness. Managers can be unaware of what would be deemed as acceptable when contacting employees who are off on long term sick.

When management are not given the tools to manage these issues effectively it can result in even more lost time and money. Not to mention the impact on moral and engagement of those members of staff left covering for the absent colleague.

We find many managers are unsure of how to manage an absence that could be due to a disability and often shy away from managing the issue at all. This is common for SME’s. Managers can feel that they do not have the time or expertise to even start to manage these issues, couple this with the real risk of a disability discrimination claim if handled wrong, really highlight the complexity of managing absence that is faced by SME’s today.

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