Why keep good absence records?

Dealing with employee absence can sometimes be tricky, especially in a small business environment. This is why it’s important to keep a record of absence so it can be managed appropreately. You may keep a note of your employees’ sickness centrally, in an absence book maybe, or in a diary, and this helps you with your sick pay administration, and calculating whether your staff are entitled to their attendance bonus or not.

You know that one particular employee has had six days off sick in the last six months but because each one is only a single day of absence, you don’t feel that it needs addressing so you let it go under the radar.

What that method won’t make immediately apparent is that the six days’ absence are all Fridays. You know that the employee plays netball on a Thursday night and that the team goes out for a drink after the match. You know this because a couple of your other staff members also play for the same team and you hear them talking about their antics after the match. From memory, you think the employee told you she was off because of headaches, or a sore throat, but you aren’t sure because you don’t write it down.

This pattern of absence, when pointed out, will raise suspicions in any employer’s mind because absence is consistently occurring on the same day of the week. But if you don’t record absence using a method that allows you to see patterns, you may be allowing staff to play the system and get away with unacceptable behaviour. High levels of absence cause extra administration for management and extra pressure on other members of staff having to pick up the slack.

It isn’t just when absence consistently falls on the same day that you need to look out for. Suspicions may also be raised when staff always call in sick on the Friday before or the Tuesday after a Bank Holiday; or on days when you have already refused a holiday request. Keep an eye out for those who are always off sick at the start of the school holidays, or the day after large sporting events.

Non-genuine absence should be treated as a disciplinary matter, and will also have an impact on whether you withhold statutory sick pay.

Seeing absence marked on a calendar format and utilising different colours to represent different types of absence will show you immediately when certain absences are falling and whether a pattern is forming, providing good evidence for management intervention and allowing you to deal with each instance appropriately.

Peninsula Business Services are the leading provider of employment law and health and safety services in the UK. They have partnered with The Business of Dentistry to bring comprehensive HR, employment law and health and safety services to dental practices. To find out more, visit www.bodhub.co.uk/hrplus


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