I am going to be bold enough to assume that no absence policy was ever written with a global pandemic in mind. Until now. At the time of writing this, we are still in the midst of the chaos caused by Covid-19. The disease has been with us for nearly two years and the situation keeps evolving. This makes it very hard to draw policy decisions on how to manage absence that is caused by Covid-19. Nevertheless, we have already learned a few good lessons and will share them in this article.
Your absence policy should be a blueprint for managers to follow but not so rigid that there is no space for discretion. Discretion doesn’t mean that managers should be able to pick
and choose when to implement the policy. Quite the opposite, meetings and discussions should be held on all occasions.
28 calendar days is a common definition of long-term absence. There’s nothing wrong with this definition in itself. However, waiting 4 weeks to offer support or consider referral to support services is a missed opportunity. This often means that medical appointments don’t take place until the 6th or 7th week of the absence. It also delays the welfare review meeting with management further to the 8th or 9th week of the absence.
A good absence policy sets out acceptable levels of absence and guides managers to review absence patterns early on. It should also provide a clear guide for follow-up actions. When more serious consequences should follow from a poor attendance record. Quite often the first meeting or referral is not the end of the story. The condition may cause another absence further down the line. There may also be follow-up actions like workplace adjustments and risk assessments to complete as a result of the initial review. Managers should review regularly if the measures are working and check in with how the employee is doing, especially if they have a further absence from work.
The most common mistake we see in absence policies is unnecessary complexity. Honeydew’s mission is to make good absence management easy. In this article, we’ll go through the do’s and don’ts of writing absence policies. We will explain how to write a policy that is an effective tool for line managers.
From the desk of Honeydew Director of Product, Inka Howorth:
I began my work in the absence management sector in 2008. That’s a lot of years of HR discourse and I’ve met a lot of practitioners of all kinds in that time. I’ve also encountered many approaches to writing an absence policy. This puts me in a privileged position to evaluate these approaches and provide a best practice guidance on what actually works, in the form of a new eBook. Continue reading
Many HR teams spend a lot of time putting together a comprehensive absence policy. Sadly, their efforts are watered-down if managers don’t know or understand the policy, or if they forget to check what absences meet the trigger criteria. However, some absence triggers are so complex that you definitely need a computer to check who trips them. Working with spreadsheets is the worst enemy of a sophisticated absence management process. Never fear, Engage is here to help and automate your absence policy.
Managers may often feel that they ‘know’ when employees are faking an absence. The gut feeling may be based on their personal relationship with the employee or the fact that they have noticed patterns of absence e.g. repeatedly taking sick days on a Friday. Relying on instict is not an approach we recommend. This article explains the best practice for addressing absences that you think may not be genuine.
Do you struggle to record who on your payroll is isolating, shielding, furloughed or recently reported possible Covid-19 symptoms? Are you tired of keeping your teams updated with ever-changing public health advice? Is your company balancing the tightrope between safeguarding staff whilst staying in business? If so, you are definitely not alone. The good news is that a robust absence management system can help make these tasks easier. Below are a few points to illustrate why absence management is essential work in the era of Coronavirus, especially for those employing essential workers. Continue reading
The Bradford Factor is a neat mathematical formula for calculating absence levels and triggering management action. It is focused on targeting frequent short-term absence, based on the principle that this type of absence is more disruptive to the workplace. The Bradford Factor formula is: Continue reading