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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4199
Help for small firms

Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide

Be prepared: Looking after your staff and your business

People are going to be off sick from time to time. Most employees feel bad about letting down their colleagues and most employers are reasonably sympathetic about their staff's welfare.

But absence because of sickness, or another unexpected reason, can put your business in a tricky situation, particularly if you have no policies in place for dealing with it.

  • You need to know why staff are off, when they will come back and how you will deal with:
    • short-term sickness absence which lasts less than a week
    • repeated short-term sickness absences which may follow a pattern
    • long-term sickness absence lasting several weeks or more
    • unauthorised absence for other reasons.
  • Sickness absence can be caused by a mixture of:
    • an employee's general physical condition
    • working conditions including health and safety standards, levels of stress, and harassment and bullying
    • family or emotional problems, or mental health issues other than stress.
  • Managers and employees often appreciate clarity and honesty about how such personal issues will be managed.
  • There are some legal issues to take into account, but making sure your staff are well, happy and working effectively is largely a matter of doing the right thing and using common sense.

This tool is aimed at small firms, and line and team managers in larger organisations.

Acas training

If you're new to HR or employing people you can also sign up for our HR for Beginners training. It's specially tailored to help small firms get their recruitment, contracts, and managing people's performance right. See Human resources management for beginners course dates and locations.

Acas also has a full range of other training courses on hiring, managing and getting the best from staff.

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