Winter Sick Leave and How Best to Manage it

How are you and your staff coping with the winter weather and the cold and flu bugs that always do the rounds at this time of year? Most people will need a bit of time off at some point during the year, to recover from an illness, so this post looks at the benefits of managing absence in a proactive way.

Both long and short term absences can cost a huge amount – both financially and in terms of manpower. It’s never an easy conversation to have with your employees and it can be difficult to keep up with what action is lawful to take. The bottom line is this – do nothing and the problem won’t go away, but could get worse. Finding out early on what’s going on with an employee who is absent can make a significant difference to your relationship and absence levels in the future. Talking to them allows you to get to the root of the problem and provide the support that they need. By focusing in on the absence it may also deter casual absenteeism – days off here and there.

Dealing with Short Term Absence

You should have a procedure in place that requires the employee to talk to a named person rather than leaving a message when reporting their absence. A standard form should then be completed recording the date, time, reason given and predicted time of absence, to make sure the relevant facts are gathered consistently for each absence.

Discussing the problem is essential especially when an employee is taking recurrent short term absences. Maybe there is a work issue which you can help them deal with and solve. Providing the support they need results in improved working relationships, morale and reduced absence.

You should always speak to a member of staff when they return to work, irrespective of how long they’ve been away. It shows you’re taking the situation seriously and acts as a deterrent for people who shouldn’t really be taking time off. Asking how someone is feeling after they’ve been off for even one day also shows that you care about them. Keep the conversation informal but take it seriously. Ensure confidentiality, have a clear structure, record what’s said and above all remain positive and supportive. You can ask them if they visited their GP, how they are feeling now and if there anything you can do to support them. Don’t ask any intrusive medical questions!

Communicating with your employees improves productivity and decreases absence, so follow these simple guidelines when dealing with short term sick leave. We’ll cover long term absence in another post in a few weeks time.

How do you deal with short term absence in your business?