sickness absence

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A survey by AXA PPP healthcare has found that a quarter of employees don’t explain the real reasons behind a sickness absence for fear of being judged by their managers.

The findings revealed that many employers are unsympathetic towards some illnesses, with only 42 per cent of senior managers accepting that flu was a serious enough reason to be absent from work.

Likewise, only 39 per cent thought back pain was a sufficient reason for taking time off work.

Learn to trust

Glen Parkinson, SME Director for AXA PPP healthcare, said that employers need to learn to trust staff take the appropriate time off sick and, where possible, consider allowing them to work from home if need be.

He said that managers need to accept that in some cases it was better for an employee to take a day off to recover rather than risk them passing it to other workers.

The reality is that if workers perceive that they aren’t trusted and valued by their employers, they will be less committed in their role, less engaged and more likely to pull unauthorised ‘sickies’.

But, why do workers feel judged for being sick?

The answer, is the fact that most companies simply don’t have an absent management policy in place.

This means that when somebody is ill they have no formal procedures in place to monitor the absence and no way of measuring the impact on the business. Subsequently, it is only human nature for managers to treat staff shortfalls sceptically and with disapproval.

Proactive absence management

A workforce management solution can help managers treat staff absences fairly and consistently whilst balancing the needs of the individual and the business.

By collating an audit trail of attendance data, managers can quickly identify any trends and patterns in employee behaviour. For instance, the data may reveal that a particular worker has arrived late every Tuesday for the past four weeks.

By identifying this pattern at the earliest opportunity, this gives employers the chance to speak to the individual in question to uncover the root cause of the absence before it impacts the business.

A discussion with the individual may reveal that they are receiving treatment for an illness or have an illness that they were embarrassed or didn’t want to disclose in public.

Efficient management of the absence enables managers to keep up to date with their progress, assist their recovery and agree what support can be offered to speed up their return to work.For instance, it may be more suitable for the employee return on a reduced hours basis or flexible working.

From time to time, your staff will be sick and need time off work. Unfortunately it’s inevitable and unavoidable, but turning a blindeye to your employees won’t help the situation.

With Government figures showing that one million workers are off sick for a month each year, and absences employers nearly £9 billion collectively for sick pay and associated costs, surely now’s the time to put in place a robust absence policy?





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