Managing Sickness Better

Posted on 9th May 2015

Sick-note culture is to be stamped out with a new fit-for-work test for anyone who’s off ill for more than 4 weeks. GPs will be expected to refer patients to a company, which will draw up a plan for their return to work. In 2012, a survey by found a third of UK workers had ‘taken a sickie’ for things like hangovers and to catch up on sleep. It seems that’s just scratching the surface, though. Over 1 million people take sick leave for over a month every year, which is costing the UK economy more than £9 billion annually. So how should businesses deal with the issue? Emma Wynne gives her diagnosis on how to manage this costly problem…

A Recurring Problem

One of the most common problems facing business is recurring sickness absence. Dealing with short and long-term illness is a different kettle of fish. It goes without saying everyone wants to support people who have a genuine chronic illness. But having an employee who’s constantly phoning in sick, not only puts a strain on your other staff, it can be incredibly costly. So, what’s the answer?

Deal With It

Businesses are often afraid of managing workplace absence because of legislation, but don’t think you can’t do anything about it. If there are no underlying issues and the levels of absence are frequent, you need to deal with it sooner rather than later. Firstly, you have to be fair and consistent in how you manage sickness, with absence procedures applied to all staff. Then there should be regular reviews to deal with any issues and track the individual’s progress. Of course, you need to tread carefully. You don’t want to end up with a claim for unfair dismissal, breach of contract or disability discrimination.

Expert Advice

If you’re not sure where you stand when it comes to managing absence, the best thing you can do is turn to the experts – whether that’s HR, occupational health or medical professionals.

Need some advice? We can take you through the HR process step-by-step, helping you with everything from sickness policies, to return to work interviews. Give us a call on 01536 215240. During the month of May 2015, you can also check out our guide to Managing Absence at

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director