Workplace absence is the top concern for many employers – a worry that is highlighted by the fact that the first Monday in February is now referred to as ‘National Sickie Day’.

Employers can reduce the impact of workplace ‘sickies’ by carefully monitoring sickness absence, says HR Team employment law advice specialist Breda Cullen.

Why National Sickie Day is becoming so popular

Employees are most likely to take unofficial holidays, falling on February 3rd this year, due to the first post-Christmas payday, a long gap in between holidays, the end of dry January and the likelihood of miserable weather.

Ms Cullen says: “Unauthorised and non-genuine staff sickness absence affects organisations financially, reduces staff morale and impacts productivity.”

An average of 350,000 UK workers failed to come into work last year, costing firms in excess of £34m in wages.

“It’s very difficult for employers to know whether or not sickness is genuine. Of course employees who come to work too sickly are less productive, risk prolonging their suffering and increase the likelihood of colleagues also becoming sick.”

Ms Cullen advises employers to have a clear policy in place for both short and long-term absence.

“The sections dealing with absenteeism should be pointed out to new starts when issuing contracts and employee handbooks during the orientation process. As a result, employees acknowledge what is required of them regarding this issue. If informal action has not been successful regarding an absence that is not genuine, disciplinary action can be taken as a last resort.”

With effective policies in place, Ms Cullen also advises a number of steps employers can take to reduce ‘sickies’.

“It’s best to begin with an informal word with the employee in question in order to ascertain the reason for sick leave.

We advise that the most effective and proven way to keep a non-genuine sickness at bay is to hold a formal return to work interview in order to send a clear message that absence is actively managed at your workplace.”

If you would like further information or advice, get in touch with HR Team today on +44 2871 271 882.