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Help for small firms

Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide

Managing staff absence - Useful tools: Real-life situation

An employee is regularly off work ill, sometimes with a bad back, and again it's the problem this time. You've always held return-to-work interviews with her, but her record of attendance is not improving.

What happens next?

Again, you welcome her back to work at a return-to-work interview, saying you're very glad to have her back as she's a skilled member of the team and valued by the company. The truth is she is talented, but can also be moody, but in this situation you are determined to stay positive.

But you do mention that you are concerned by her sickness record, particularly her back problems, and ask if she knows what is causing them.

She doesn't seem to like the questioning, even though it's courteous and well-meant, and replies that she doesn't know what all the fuss is about and that her sickness record is no worse than anyone else's.

You point out that, actually, that's not true. She has the worst sickness record in the company. You ask if she has any idea why that might be. She says she doesn't.

You reply that she should see an occupational health specialist who might be able to help improve her health.

She says she would rather not, but you insist that it is important that she does, as her level of sickness is not acceptable.

She sees occupational health who assess her desk and chair, and make changes including a new chair to help her posture.

The result is she hasn't phoned in ill with a bad back for months.

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