In order for employers to be able to tackle sickness absence in the workplace, they need to be aware of staff sickness absence patterns. The best way to do this is to keep an accurate record of sickness absence – keeping on top of who is off, how long they have been off for and why (though staff are entitled to write ‘personal’ on their self certificate).
In smaller businesses with fewer staff members, it may be easier for employers to keep on top of who is off sick and who isn’t. But in larger businesses with more employees, not keeping track of who is off sick can cause problems.
Recording sickness absence accurately for all staff can help you:
- minimise the disruption caused by absences, helping you to plan cover for absent employees;
- identify patterns or causes of absence that could be work-related;
- ensure accurate payment, whether statutory or contractual sick pay;
- determine if reasonable adjustments are needed to help the employee return to work;
- manage absence for those who have lots of short-term absence for unrelated issues;
- ensure you keep in contact with absent staff;
- ensure you are fair to all staff.
There are many different tools and systems available for tracking and recording sickness absence in the workplace, for example, ACAS’s absence record sheet and this sample tracking tool. However, before an employer begins tracking their employees’ sickness absence patterns, there are certain requirements that must be met.
While there is no law governing absence management, employers must make sure that recording their employees’ attendance data is in compliance with data protection laws. Sickness absence data is sensitive information and must be kept private and confidential. If you do decide to start tracking sickness absence, it may be a good idea to let your staff know that their personal information will not be passed on to any third parties.
For more information or help on tracking sickness absence, visit the Fit for Work website or call the Advice line on 0800 032 6235 to speak to a dedicated advisor. If you have a staff member who has been off work for four weeks or more, visit www.fitforwork.org/employer/ and click on ‘refer an employee’ to refer them to the service.