An effective absence policy helps discourage unnecessary absence and provides clear rules on when disciplinary action will be taken.
Your absence policy might include:
- Making it clear, in employment contracts and other communications, that employees are expected to work their contracted hours whenever possible.
- Requiring employees to request any planned absence from work in advance, and to phone in when sick or otherwise absent without notice.
- Setting out any flexible working arrangements (such as flexible hours or working from home) and what employees need to do if they want to work flexibly.
- Requiring employees to provide a doctor’s ‘fit note’ if they have been off sick for more than a week and to complete a self-certification form for shorter illnesses.
- Conducting return to work interviews after sick leave or absence to emphasise that absences matter and help identify any underlying problems.
- Establishing how you will manage employees who are on long-term sick leave.
- Monitoring and recording employee absences and periods of sick leave.
- Setting levels or patterns of absence (including sick leave) that will result in further action — typically an investigation, possibly followed by disciplinary warnings and ultimately dismissal.
- Promoting any occupational health initiatives such as support in managing stress or subsidised gym membership.
- Including attendance levels in employee performance management or performance-related pay.