Executive Summary The purpose of this report is to critically analyse the need for effective management of absence in the workplace. In order to do this I examined the reports and statistics concerning absence in recent years. I also looked at our own absence management policies and procedures. My initial finding was that there is no written policy for dealing with absence. From my research I would recommend that a written policy should be devised and implemented. This policy should include the basics such as: ? Reporting procedures ? Requirements for certification-self/medical ? Disciplinary actions ? Trigger points for further action Advice & support available ? Return to work procedures To set this out in a written policy will ensure that absence is managed consistently throughout the organisation. Contents Executive Summary1 Contents2 Introduction 3 Report4 Summary/conclusions9 Recommendations10 References & reading11 Word Count1560 Introduction The purpose of this report is to critically analyse the need for effective management of absence in the workplace. In order to this I will discuss: • Main business reasons why an organisation should ensure that absence is effectively managed. • Benefits of written polices and procedures for managing absence. Importance of communication of these policies. • Strategies for persistent short-term absence • Issues surrounding management of long term ill health • The roles of Human Resources and operational management in this process. Managing Absence Why? Absenteeism in the workplace costs employers thousands every year. Not only in the direct costs but also in indirect costs. A recent CiPD survey found the average level of sickness absence as 3. 9% or 9 days lost per employee. Although statistics both from CBI and CiPD surveys have shown a downward trend it continues to be a costly business for employers.
It became more costly after the removal of the SSP rebate. Absence can be categorised in two ways. Short-term persistent absence-most disruptive, and long term absence often down to more serious ill health. The effects of high absence levels are wide ranging and affect everyone in the organisation; they cannot be regarded purely as a management problem. The Costs? The Cost to the UK economy annually is ? 10-12 billion. Average costs per employee ? 576 a year (CiPD 2003 absence survey) Costs are highest in the public sector. Direct costs ? Wages for people not working-sick pay ? Overtime Loss of production ? Loss of revenue ? Costs of temps to cover absence ? Lower quality or levels of service Indirect costs ? Time for administration/processing ? Reduced level of customer service ? Lowering morale of other employees ? Time lost through office discussion and debate ? General dissatisfaction, resulting in low productivity. ? Disruption of the flow of work Benefits Of Written Policy ? Assist the management of absence in a more efficient and cost effective manner. ? It makes it clear to staff and management the procedure to be followed. ? Provides framework for consistency. Identifies ‘trigger’ points for further action ? Recording can identify trends or patterns-‘mondayitis’ etc. ? Sets out rules of acceptable attendance ? Allows disciplinary action to be taken when levels become unacceptable. ? Introduction of positive policies can improve working conditions and increase workers’ motivation to attend work. Importance of Communication Once absence policies and procedures are established it is important that they are made known to all employees. The induction process should include communication of the absence policy and procedures.
An ACAS survey shows unauthorised absence is more common in new starts. Often they simply are not aware of the correct procedures if they are unable to attend work. Young workers in particular with no experience will need informed of the correct action. Absences due to injuries at work are also higher in young and inexperienced workers, another case for thorough induction and training. Effective communication will ensure that everyone is aware of: ? Absence reporting procedures ? Recording procedures ? Return to work procedures ? ‘Unacceptable’ levels ? Disciplinary action-when and what Sickness payments ? Right to access medical records ? Advice and support available Communication should also include training for supervisors in attendance management and communication of absence rates to senior managers. Teams be kept up to date on absence issues that are affecting their team. How Can We Manage The Problem? A good starting point is to adopt an overall approach; particularly relevant where general absence levels are high. Organisations may find that significant organisational or procedural changes are called for to improve general working conditions.
Although it has to be accepted that some absences are out with management control levels can be significantly reduced by implementing f positive policies and improved working conditions. ACAS advises that these policies, with the consultation with employees and their representatives should assist in ensuring that: • good physical working conditions are provided • ergonomic factors are taken into account when designing workplaces-DSE/work station assessments. • Health and safety standards are maintained-risk assessment of job roles new starts; especially young people are given sufficient training. • General culture is one of teamwork-‘can’t let the team down • jobs are designed to give motivation and provide job satisfaction- variety, discretion, responsibility, contact with other people, feedback, challenge and clear goals. • Policies and procedures for training, career development, communication and welfare provision regularly reviewed. • Policies on equal opportunities and discrimination are fair and observed • supervisory training is adequate, and supervisors take an interest in their workers’ health and welfare.
Policies such as these help to reduce absence by improving employees’ motivation to attend work. To tackle absenteeism effectively policies and procedures should allow for identification and focus on the issue to avoid short-term absences becoming a long-term problem. When managing long-term ill health organisations should consider the following while ensuring sympathy and consideration at all times. o Use of company doctor-company focused diagnosis o How capable is the employee on their return? o Is there something else more suitable? o How can current position be adjusted to ease return to work? Maintain regular contact throughout-home visits. o Discuss all options with employee- altered job role Early retirement o Advise employee if job is at risk from continued absence. The Disability Discrimination Act impacts when dealing with long-term ill health. The Act sets out the requirement for accurate information on employees capability to do their own job or alternative on offer, for the consideration of alternative work or reasonable adjustments to current role and for consultation with employee, occupational health and disability employment adviser.
Tools of the Trade There are a number of ‘best practice’ techniques that available to manage short-term absence: • Have a clear policy-easy to understand, encourages consistency. Employees are aware of action and consequences. • Reporting procedure-who to call, when and update procedures • Act on day one-check the facts, history • Return to work interviews-every employee is invited to attend an interview on their return after ANY absence. Having to account for their absence seen to discourage the odd ‘sicky’. Disciplinary procedures-unacceptable levels and resulting action should be highlighted in policy. • Use of trigger mechanisms- Bradford factor or other indicators to instigate further action. The Bradford factor more effective than just specifying ‘x’ number of days in a given time as some employees will ensure that their absence is just within prescribed limits. • Providing sickness absence figures to line managers-seen as a way for line managers to take control within own responsibility. • Medical examinations-included in policy the employers right to send employees to company doctor.
Seen as a deterrent to frequent ‘sickys’. • Leave for family circumstances- employees often claim sickness as reason for absence when a child or relative is sick. Giving an allowance for this type of absence reduces the need to feign sickness. • Implement flexible working- Flexible working alters usual work patterns to accommodate special circumstances negating the need for sickness absence. • Good health promotion- provide access to alternative therapies Pre-employment medicals Yoga Help-lines Subsidised gym membership Stress counselling Attendance bonuses/incentives-a bone of contention with some who view that employees receive wages for work done, why give them extra just for turning up. Supporters will argue that it can deter employees from taking unnecessary time off and overall has a positive effect on attendance. These schemes are more effective the more frequent the qualifying period/payment. • Restricting sick pay-must remain within prescribed legal limits but again can deter unnecessary absence if not paid for it. The Return to Work Interview came out top in a recent CBI report on absence reducing policies.
This year the CiPD report also found that 60. 4% of those surveyed found it the most effective method for managing absence. A four-step process for conducting interviews. Welcome- the employee back and let them know they were missed Absence-address this absence spell and have absence records available. Advise if current attendance levels are unsatisfactory. Responsibility-make it clear that it is the employee’s responsibility to attend work and how they intend to resolve the issue. Move on-Put it behind you and discuss the implications of the absence such as lost work.
Employers however need to tailor their policies to address the causes of absence in their own work place. You or me? CBI report ‘Pulling together: 2001’ found that absence levels were lower in organisations where primary responsibility was given to senior management or HR. Involving line managers in monitoring and evaluation can have positive affect on the effectiveness absence management policies. Managers and supervisors should be given the responsibility for monitoring and managing absence inline with policies. Human resource managers should be available to provide and analyse absence figures.
They should also provide employees and supervisors with advice and support on dealing with absence issues, causes and remedies. HR should also deal with any disciplinary procedures that require to be implemented. Conclusions And Summary In undertaking this report I identified that the organisation has no policy for managing absence. The recruitment pack includes details of sickness payments-qualification and cut-off. From this study I have realised the importance of effective management of sickness absence. At the very least there should be a written policy stating: Expected levels of attendance o Absence reporting procedures o Return to work procedures o Responsibilities for recording and monitoring absence o Arrangements for advice/counselling o Disciplinary action if attendance falls below acceptable levels. On the surface it appears that the unit does not have a high level of absence. However looking at the figures and records for the last year tells a different story. o One incidence of long-term illness falling just out-side the 15-day criterion. o Persistent short-term absence of one employee- seven spells ranging from 1 to 7 days. Other short spells from usual colds, flu and stomach bugs. The fact that there is no written policy means that here has been no formal action taken against the persistent offender. A back to work interview may well highlight an on-going problem and make the employee aware of their responsibility to attend work. Recommendations My recommendations from this report would be for the organisation to build on the sick leave part of recruitment pack and introduce an absence management policy. This should include the following: ? What employees should do on first and subsequent days of absence ?
Requirement for provision of self/medical certification ? Guidelines for further investigations ? Monitoring and record keeping ? Unacceptable absence levels ? Trigger points for further action ? Support and advice available ? Disciplinary procedures for non-improvement. ? Provision for involvement of occupational health professionals ? Encouraging healthy lifestyle. Once the policy is established it must be communicated at all levels to ensure clarity and understanding. Training should be provided to those involved in managing the process.
In establishing the procedure essential points to bear in mind: • Treat everyone reasonably, fairly, consistently, without prejudice and without discrimination • Policies and procedures are open clear and understood by all. • Review and update procedures regularly. References ; Reading Personnel Practice (Malcolm ; Jackson) Third edition CiPD Employee Absence 2003 A survey of Management policy ; Practice ACAS-Absence ; Labour Turnover CBI report – Pulling together: 2001 absence and labour turnover survey www. cipd. co. uk www. acas. org. uk www. managingabsence. org. uk