Managing sick leave

Managing Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace

October 20, 2016 | By Caroline Robertson, Vitil

Human Resources Perth

An absence management survey undertaken by Direct Health Solutions in 2015 found that absenteeism levels fell by 7% to 8.6 days per annum compared to an average of 9.5 days in 2014. Whilst this shows an improvement in sickness absenteeism levels, it is still a high level of absence for businesses to be experiencing. So, if you are a business experiencing high levels of sickness absence, please don't lose heart as there are strategies that can be introduced to help you reduce this and Manage Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace.

Managing Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace is challenging, especially in small or medium size businesses in Perth, where one person absent is really noticeable and can have a massive impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of a team. There is also the added issue of employee's being entitled to their privacy and exercising their right not to discuss their sick leave against managers being expected to manage this in order to meet the needs of the business. Being prepared to work through concerns sensitively, sympathetically and patiently, will greatly benefit everyone involved.

At Vitil human resource services we find that the first important step in Managing Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace is communication. This starts at the induction phase with new employees being educated on the company's personal leave policy and their responsibilities and expectations when they are sick. Doing so is more likely to ensure that an employee will know what process to follow when they are sick and the types of questions they are likely to be asked. It is important to understand how long an employee thinks they are likely to be absent for and an indication of when they think they shall return to work. As a manager in Perth, you need to be understanding and empathetic whilst at the same time gathering the necessary information in order to manage the needs of the business and plan workloads. You also need to agree with the employee on the expected frequency of communication, which will be based on the type of sickness absence being experienced.

There are two types of sickness absences, one being short-term and the other long term, with the strategies to manage these being different. So, what's the difference?

Long term sickness can result from injury, illness or operation and can mean that an employee is unable to work for a considerable amount of time, or is frequently absent for shorter periods of time because of the same illness or condition. Short-term absences are generally those of an unrelated nature which cause an employee to be away from work on a frequent short term basis.

In dealing with cases of long term sickness absence, it is important for Perth businesses to maintain regular contact with the employee to find out how they are and have a discussion with them in order to find out the nature of their condition or illness, how long they are likely to be absent from work, what the treatment is, the prognosis and whether there is anything that can be done to help them to return to work. If appropriate, you may need gain medical advice about the employee's condition and prognosis, which can be done through the Company Doctor or seeking written authorisation to write to the employee's GP or specialist. This is especially important for employees returning to work, where job role adjustments or a gradual return may be required initially.

In dealing with persistent short term Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace and where these start to become an issue or reach a high level, it is recommended to meet with the employee to discuss concerns. It is a good opportunity to carry this meeting out following a period of absence and will allow you to establish how the employee is feeling now, explore the reasons for their recent absence, establish if the absence is work related and if necessary review previous absence levels and reasons. It may be that the absences are related to the same thing or there may be other underlying reasons for the absence. Normally there will be a valid reason for lots of short term absences however where there is no valid reason, it is important for an human resources to understand that they have high levels of sickness absence, which are causing concern and that an improvement in attendance levels is required. Employees also need to understand the impact their poor attendance may be having on their performance at work as well as that of their team.

Managing Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace is challenging as it is important to ensure that matters are dealt with sensitively and sympathetically and that confidentiality is maintained. It is also important to ensure that you work within the confines of employment legislation and that employees do not feel bullied or harassed due to their sick leave or the Company trying to manage this. Educating employees from the outset regarding their responsibilities and expectations and the process that will be followed when there are concerns, is vitally important in Managing Sick Leave Issues in the Workplace.

Vitil Human Resources

Vitil's Consultants are HR professionals in Australia who have experience of a vast array of different situations. We who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support, where your team is the key focus. By outsourcing HR to a Perth based expert in HR, our experienced recruitment management professionals can objectively assess your environment and your human capital needs, to further develop your business performance.

Contact us for more information.

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