Sickness days on the rise

25 Nov 2019


Sickness days are increasing once again according to the Office for National Statistics.  In 2018 – employees took 141.1 million sick days costing companies millions of pounds in absenteeism.  There were a multitude reasons for taking sick days last year ranging from coughs and colds, musculoskeletal conditions, other symptoms (i.e. accidents, food poisoning) and the most publicised reason being mental health (i.e. stress, anxiety and depression).  Though it is important to be sympathetic to employees, it is also crucial that employers manage levels of absences.

Impacts of sickness absence

Companies should be keen to address absence issues as with less workers on site means less productivity and lower profit margins.  Profits will continue to fall as Employers will still have to pay company sick or SSP. Whilst employees are absent from work, they still accrue annual leave pay.  Employers may need to recruit temporary staff which may affect the quality of work and customer satisfaction.

Solutions to absenteeism in the workplace

Best practice is to have an attendance policy in place.  Policies should clearly outline a process for all employees to follow to avoid ambiguity, for example staff must contact a manager no later than 8 am if unable to attend work.  Any long periods of sickness will need to be supported by a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ certificate.  The policy should also make it clear of managing (a) frequent absence (b) Friday and Monday absence patterns.  Though short cut methods are popular i.e. sending WhatsApp messages to communicate to management, it is not considered to be the best way.

Depending on the nature of the illness, management play a crucial role in supporting their employees; this is more apparent with managing mental health illness. Supportive methods include welfare meetings, Occupational Health 121’s and counselling via GP referrals.  It is important Employers actively promote health and well-being within the work place to avoid low morale amongst staff.  Managers should be trained to recognise signs of poor mental health to avoid any long-term sickness absences.

Attendance policy 

A manager’s role is critical as amongst their day to day job, they must create a positive work environment to continual boost morale, productivity and to retain staff. For more information on management of sickness or if you need an attendance policy written or reviewed, please contact Quest on 0333 240 7208.