Managing Sickness Absence – How to Combat the ‘Duvet Day’!

managing sickness absence how to combat the duvet day

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Fiona can be found at:

Fiona Cowie

HR Consultant

Essential HR Solutions

www.essentialhr.co.uk  01245 349492

Managing Sickness Absence – How to Combat the ‘Duvet Day’!

The winter months often mean more staff sickness absence.  Apart from the inevitable winter bugs coughs and colds, wet and windy mornings can tempt some staff to take a ‘duvet day’ when they are not actually ill.  So, as a business owner/manager, how can you tell the difference between a legitimate day off sick and one that it not and what can you do to combat this common problem?

Here are 6 top tips for managing sickness absence in small and medium sized companies:

1.                   Make sure you’ve got a Sickness Absence Policy.  It doesn’t have to be long but should cover the company’s approach to managing staff sickness absence.  This ensures that staff know what to expect when they have been off sick.

2.                  Provide some basic training in absence management for your supervisors and managers.  Research shows that sickness absence is lower in companies that have undertaken some training with their managers and smaller companies often don’t spend the short time it takes to do this.

3.                  Put in place ‘return to work’ meetings for all sickness absence.  For absences of only a few days, this could just be a quick chat.  However, employees who know that you are going to speak with them when they come back to the office after a day off sick are more likely to think twice about taking that ‘duvet day’ knowing they will have to explain to you.  These meetings also help to identify any underlying problems with staff and are helpful in preventing longer absences from work.

4.                  Put in place a simple process to monitor the levels of sickness absence.  Even with only a few employees it is easy to lose touch of just how much sickness absence is affecting your business.  The cost of lost productivity through sickness absence can be significant.

5.                  If you find that an employee has an unacceptable level of sickness absence which needs to be dealt with, make sure you do this through the company’s disciplinary and grievance process.  Your sickness absence policy will also help.  As well as dealing with the issue, this shows other employees that you look unfavourably on this type of behaviour.

6.                  You need to be aware that some employees may become disabled as a result of sickness.  There are certain obligations on employers in these circumstances which are covered in the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act.

In summary, effective sickness absence practices help to keep a healthy and motivated workforce which goes a long way to reducing sickness absence and helping to discourage those ‘duvet days’.  It also demonstrates to your staff that you will support them with any health problems,helping them to return to work as quickly as possible.

Fiona Cowie

HR Consultant

Essential HR Solutions

www.essentialhr.co.uk  01245 349492

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