Managing Sickness and Absence in your workplace can be easier than you think

Managing Sickness and Absence in your workplace can be easier than you think

Along with the Commercial and Practical risk areas such as financial cost (sick pay), loss of productivity, and management time; there are key legal risk areas such as discrimination, unfair/constructive dismissal, and breach of contract/unlawful deductions which as an Employer you should be aware of and able to manage.

In our article, we take a look at how you can manage the process and reduce the risk in your business.


As an Employer how should you manage Sickness and Absence?

There are many variables when managing sickness absence, and some cases can be complex. Here are some basic processes to help you reduce the risks to your business.

Managing Short-Term Absence

The overall aim should be to improve attendance

  • Monitor to spot patterns and identify underlying causes or possible triggers


We always advise that you implement Return to Work (RTW) Meetings

  • these will establish the reason for the absence
  • they will highlight issues early
  • they will discourage non-genuine absence
  • they can form the informal information-gathering stage should the case progress formally


Ensure you have clear policies and procedures in place for absence reporting

  • employees should notify you by telephone (not text or email)
  • contact should be directly from the Employee
  • consider consequences for non-adherence (can it be classed as unauthorised leave and pay withheld?)


Managing Long-Term Sickness Absence (any timeframe over 4 weeks)

The overall aim should be:

  • facilitating the Employee’s return to work at the earliest reasonable point
  • supporting and reasonable adjustments where practically possible
  • dismissal is a last resort
  • application of a fair and proper procedure that either aids a return to work, or a reasonable dismissal


Follow your policies and procedures

  • a case becomes Long Term Sickness (LTS) after 4 weeks of absence
  • arrange a discussion with the employee to establish the nature and cause (Welfare Meeting)
  • obtain medical advice (Occupational Health OH) at an early stage and at a regular basis throughout if needed
  • identify practical support to facilitate a return to work
  • consider the possibility that the Employee could be classed as disabled and therefore have a protected characteristic


Formal Meetings

It is always recommended you carry out formal meetings, using your capability policy and procedures to guide you, we can assist you in all aspects of managing sickness absence. Please contact us at the earliest possible opportunity so we can guide you through the correct processes to maintain your legislative compliance.

The basics are:

  • review absence records, return to work interviews and other investigations
  • consider protected characteristics
  • issue a formal invite to the meeting providing the appropriate notice
  • your Employee has the right to be accompanied and must be given the opportunity to make representations
  • consider further if investigations are appropriate e.g. further medical evidence
  • there should be an appropriate number of warnings before dismissal
  • communicate the outcome in writing
  • provide the right to appeal the decision


How can we help?

At HR and You Ltd we have a team of highly experienced HR Consultants  who can assist, support, and manage any HR and Employment Law matter, why not contact us for a confidential no obligation chat 0333 0069489 or email us at [email protected]






This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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This document is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a HR and You Ltd Consultant or a member of our legal team.

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