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Are your line managers underprepared to manage absence?

As winter sets in, absence tends to increase slightly due to the flu season and the effects of Christmas parties, however even though employee absence is a significant cost for many organisations, CIPD research suggests that only a third of employers monitor that cost. Employees may need time off for a variety of reasons, from short-term sickness to maternity leave or public duties. Effective absence management seeks to support the needs of employees while providing clear and consistent guidance to avoid unauthorised absence or inappropriate use of sick pay schemes.absence-management

More employers are recognising the vital role that line managers play in supporting employees, but most aren’t giving them the tools they need to manage absence effectively. The CIPD Absence Management survey 2016, in partnership with Simplyhealth, reveals that less than half of employers (44%) train managers to handle short-term absence, a drop from 52% in 2015. 

Effective absence management involves finding a balance between providing support to help employees with health problems stay in and return to work, and taking consistent and firm action against employees who try to take advantage of organisations’ occupational sick pay schemes.  See our Employee Wellbeing blog to be more proactive in managing the causes of absence.

There are many reasons why people take time off work. These can be categorised as:

  • short-term sickness absence
  • long-term sickness absence
  • other authorised absences, including annual leave; maternity, paternity, adoption, or parental leave; time off for public or trade union duties, or to care for dependents; compassionate leave; educational leave
  • unauthorised absence or persistent lateness.

In the CIPD annual survey, the main causes of sickness absence have been identified as:

  • minor illness (includes colds/flu, stomach upsets, headaches and migraines)
  • stress
  • musculoskeletal injuries
  • home/family/carer responsibilities
  • mental ill health (for example depression and anxiety)
  • back pain.

So if you have an ongoing issue with a staff member or you would like to be proactive in preventing absence, training your line managers in effective absence management could save your company money in lost working hours and covering absentee workers. If you would like more information regarding this or any other issue contact us.