Magazine article Management Today

Brain Food: Crash Course in ... Managing Absence

Magazine article Management Today

Brain Food: Crash Course in ... Managing Absence

Article excerpt

It's Monday morning and your department is half-empty. Has a virulent flu bug been flying around over the weekend or is your whole workforce throwing a sickie? Either way, you can't run your business with this level of absence.

Take control. 'The first thing you have to do is believe you can control absence,' says Mike Huss, senior employment law specialist at personnel consultancy Peninsula. Too many employers have a casual approach towards sickness and absence, he believes, opening themselves to abuse.

Write the rules. A policy is essential, says Huss. 'When an employee is sick they should ring in themselves, not use their friends and family, and they must talk to a manager.' Your policy should also state in what circumstances absence is permissible, expectations about seeking medical help, and what sickness benefit will be paid.

Take a roll call. You can't know whether you have a problem of absenteeism if you aren't recording who's at work and who's not. Mike Petrook, public affairs manager of the Chartered Management Institute, says: 'If employees know that data is being collected, they are less likely to take liberties.'

Have a chat. Whether or not you call it a formal back-to-work interview, make sure that you talk to your employee when they return. 'It's important to establish the reason for their absence, and if it's down to illness, will it recur?' says Petrook. 'It's also a good opportunity to update them on what they've missed. …

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