The first Monday in February is unofficially known as “National Sickie Day” as it is the day employees are most likely to call in sick. The reasons being the freezing cold days, travelling to work and home in the dark and the summer holiday in the very distant future. It is estimated that this year 400,000 employees will have done so costing the UK economy £43m.
Every year sickness absence costs £700 per employee in the UK. Given the state of the economy businesses can not afford to put up with employees consisting calling in sick so managing sickness absence is very important. Absence is a financial cost to the business as well as a cost to motivation and morale of the workforce.
There are two types of absence that need to be dealt with using a fair procedure.
For frequent intermittent absence where an employee phones in on a regular basis with indiscriminate illnesses, employers need to track what is happening to look for any trends such as the Monday/Friday syndrome or an employee being sick at particular times. Armed with the information the employer then needs to discuss the situation with the employee to find out what is causing the absence, using an occupational health referral as required. The employer needs to stress an improvement is required and then if that does not happen move onto use of the disciplinary process if appropriate. If a disability has come to light during medical investigation then reasonable adjustments are essential.
For long term absence where an employee has a serious medical condition then regular meetings are essential with an occupational health referral for advice on how to manage the situation. Long term if the employee is unable to return to work then an ill health termination must be considered.