Anyone who has grown a firm understands that as a team develops, the possibility for interpersonal conflicts increases. Sick leave is a frequent though occasionally challenging topic in human resource management. Without proper absence management strategies, profitability and margins may suffer.
While this is not a danger that can be eradicated, it can be controlled via efficient communication and comprehensive absence management procedures.
We felt that small company owners might benefit from reviewing the many challenges associated with illness absence.
Communication and knowledge are critical.
The most thing you can do is implement an effective monitoring system that tracks all absences and their reasons. This enables you to monitor and identify any problematic tendencies early on.
All employees must be notified of the company’s sick leave policy and instructed on how to report in if they cannot work due to illness. You’ll need to keep track of why they’re absent and how long they’re absent.
Short-term illness that occurs regularly has the potential to be more disruptive to your company and personnel than a prolonged length of absence. It is generally impractical for you to organize many short-term substitutes. Additionally, it might be detrimental to team morale.
Employees may self-certify their sick leave for the first seven days, including weekends, but must present a GP fit note after that.
Those on extended sick leave, defined as any absence of four weeks or more, should be contacted frequently so that you can assist them in returning gradually if required.
Conducting a return-to-work interview after any leave is one of the most effective management techniques for controlling absence. On the one hand, it performs the function of a deterrent to people desiring duvet days. Additionally, it provides insight into people battling an underlying ailment or difficulty at work, such as bullying or unreasonable workloads.
‘Attack problems early, and you reduce the likelihood of a single rotten apple impacting the whole barrel.’
Sick pay regulations
You have two alternatives as an employer. Employees have a statutory entitlement to statutory sick pay (SSP), which is presently set at £96.35 per week (2021/22). SSP is only due from day four of an illness, and the employee is eligible for up to 28 weeks of compensation.
Alternatively, you might opt for more generous sick pay provisions in your work contracts. Because most businesses give more than SSP, you may discover that not offering it yourself hurts your prospects of employing talented individuals.
The problem of absenteeism due to illness
The natural inclination may be to avoid bogus sick leave. However, it’s also important to monitor for illness presenteeism, which occurs when individuals return to work before completely recovering or refuse to leave at all. This is frequently due to a decrease in compensation or a desire to be seen working – this may harm their performance, worker morale, and ultimately, your profit margins.
The most effective method to avoid this risk is to encourage workplace wellness that recognizes the value of people taking time away from work when necessary. For example, increasing year-round usage of annual leave may help minimize absenteeism and presenteeism.
Procedures for disciplinary action and reasons for dismissal
When it comes to managing people who take unjustified time off, having an absence management strategy is critical to establishing the appropriate course of action.
First, you must speak with the employee and express your dissatisfaction with their attendance record. If you maintain accurate attendance records, you may demonstrate how their attendance is lower than their coworkers. Investigate and discover why this is the case. goals for improvement. If they do not improve, you must be quite strict with your disciplinary procedure.
Frequently, a fit note may state that the individual may return to work on “low tasks” or with reduced hours – which is not necessarily feasible. You are under no obligation to agree if it is not practicable. If they return on a part-time basis, their salary will be pro-rated.
Once you’ve identified an employee on extended sick leave, you may request access to their medical data from their primary care physician or other health professional. This is a signed permission form that the GP or other health care provider will need before releasing sensitive personal data.
Once you get the report, you may choose to examine Occupational Health regulations on any reasonable accommodations necessary to assist the employee in returning to work.
Employees absent from work for an extended period may be classed as handicapped, resulting in greater legal protection. If they cannot return to work in the foreseeable future, they may be fired based on incapacity due to poor health. In this case, we would recommend getting expert guidance.
It’s worth noting that HMRC regulates statutory ill pay, making false claims a criminal offense. The fear of an HMRC inquiry may deter workers from engaging in dishonest behavior.
Suffice to say that this is the worst-case scenario.
Generally, you’ll have honest workers who will not abuse sick leave and want to contribute to your organization. Hopefully, long-term or phony short-term sick leave will be a non-issue.
These types of hazards may be mitigated by open communication, sound rules, and a grasp of the applicable laws and disciplinary processes.
It’s simply worth knowing how you will be fixed in the worst-case scenario. You can reduce the danger of a single poor apple infecting the whole barrel by addressing these issues early on.