Employee absence from work is often difficult to manage, particularly for smaller businesses and SMEs.
In instances where the illness is a long-term condition which requires the worker to spend an extended amount of time away from the work-place can be incredibly costly to SMEs as well as having a negative impact on the employee and the rest of team.
So what are the procedures that SMEs should have in place to deal with situations like this?
Notification of Sickness
On the first dat of absence, employees should contact their line manager to form them that they will be absent.
During this phone-call they should inform their manager of the reason for their absence, how long it is likely to last, whether they have sought medical advice and whether any arrangements need to be made with regards to covering the workload.
The contact should always be made by the employee themselves unless the nature of the sickness prevents this.
Notification should be made between 8am - 9am on the first day of absence and if notification is made any later, the entitlement to statutory sick pay may be lost unless a genuine reason for late notification is agreed upon.
Recording and monitoring sickness
If an employee arrives for work and is sent home due to sickness a half-day absence should be recorded if they leave in the mooring. If they leave in the afternoon, no sickness should be recorded.
There are two types of absence, occasional days off work and consecutive weeks off work.
Length of Absence
If the absence is due to extend beyond seven days then he employee must submit a statement of 'Fitness for Work Certificate' to the company on the eighth day of absence to qualify for sick pay.
In cases where sickness extends beyond the period covered by the certificate, further documents must be presented.
When an employee has a high number of shirt-term absences, line managers should combine tact and vigilance in ascertaining the reasons behind this. They should talk informally with members of staff on their return to work after every period of sickness to discuss the reasons for the absence.
Return to the workplace
An employee should not return to work until the certificate has expired and the doctor has indicated that he will not need to assess the employees fitness to work at the end of the specified period.
In addition the employee will need to complete a self-certification form, if the initial certificate did not cover the first seven days of absence.
The importance of an adequate and meaningful consultation can not be over emphasised. All consolations should be informed of their right to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or trade union representative where appropriate. Managers have the right to talk to employees about sickness absence and related issues.