Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Absences from work can take a variety of forms. A worker may exercise their legitimate contractual or statutory right to not attend work in the following circumstances: for annual holidays, public holidays, to attend a training course, to take maternity, paternity or adoption leave, to care for dependants,  as a result of a bereavement, to take time off for jury service, to engage in Trade Union activities, or because they are ill. Generally, unless an employee has a contractual right, they do not have a statutory right to time off to attend routine medical or dental appointments.

Employers should always keep information about the number of unplanned absences that their employees take, including the number of days absent for, how many spells of absence there have been, the reasons for any absence, whether the employee can prove the reason for the absence, and the details of the individual employee absent. Employers should be careful to ensure their employees that such information is being collected on the behalf of their employer, otherwise they may fall foul of the Data Protection Act 1998.

If an employee is sick the employer should ways investigate the absence. This allows the employer to confirm that the sickness-related absence is genuine, what the cause of the ill-health is, and to determine whether or not it will be possible for the employee to return to work. Further, it may alert the employer to any claims it is exposed to and allow the managerial team to plan business in the employee’s absence, arranging cover if necessary.

As well as conducting an investigation, the employer should maintain appropriate levels of contact with the employee. Clear written guidelines should be produced so that employees are aware of their responsibilities if they are absent from work because of illness. For example, on the first day the employee must telephone their line manager and speak to them personally to inform them of their illness, unless there are severely mitigating circumstances. The employee should then provide a “fit note” after four days and keep their manager updated as to when they believe they will return at four-day intervals after that. An employer should also consider what steps could be taken to support the employee and to arrange cover for the employee and/or consider what steps should be taken to reintroduce the worker into the workplace. It should be clear to employees what the consequences will be if the rules relating to reporting absences is not followed. If the absence is long-term then employer should consider whether it should take steps to terminate the contract of employment. However, employers should be careful to carry out such an action with care and attention, as if not then a claim for unfair dismissal and/or disability discrimination may not be far in the offing.

It is clearly important that managers and supervisors are trained in handling absences and that they are able to take responsibility for managing absences.

The right to statutory and (if applicable) contractual sick pay should be made clear in any written policy. This should make it clear when the employee’s entitlement commences, how long the entitlement to SSP or contractual sick pay will continue for, and what will happen when the employee’s SSP entitlement ceases. The employer should constantly review the entitlement of all employees to sick pay.

They say that prevention is better than cure and this would certainly seem to apply to sickness absences. Recruitment policies should therefore attempt to ‘weed out’ potential employees that may be susceptible to long-term sickness absences (however, this is again tempered by the requirement not to discriminate against candidates i.e. by asking prohibited s.60 questions on disability). For current employees, policies should be devised so as to encourage attendance. Encouraging team working is a good start, as this may pressure employees into good working practices. In addition to this, a certain degree of flexibility is encouraged, as well as encouraging a focus on outputs and performance targets instead of simply working hours. Further, agreeing with your employees what reasonable absences are (i.e. emergencies and medical appointments) will avoid misunderstandings or abuses of the system later.

As can be seen from the above, employers must have a comprehensive and consistent absence policy to encourage good working practices, allow managers to deal with long-term absences, and avoid potential claims for unfair dismissal or discrimination.

Tagged with →  

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

172 Reviews

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 4 days ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 4 days ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 1 week ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 2 months ago