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Keep business healthy while managing sickness absence

A legal expert has offered her advice for businesses looking to manage sickness absence, estimated to cost businesses billions of pounds per year.

Louise Myers, solicitor in the Employment team at Napthens, points to figures from research company Engage which estimates that the average manager spends 20 working days per year dealing with absence.

Figures from 2012 reported by ACAS, the conciliation service, estimate that the cost of absence from work for the UK economy is as much as £14billion.

Louise warns that absences can put a strain on any organisation, but particularly small ones which may not have a dedicated resource to deal with the issue.

She has now given her top tips for helping companies manage absences.

Louise said: “It’s important to make sure that up-to-date sickness absence policies and procedures are in place, covering absence reporting as well as dealing with cases where, for instance, employees are persistently sick or dealing with long-term issues.

“All employees should be aware of these policies and receive training, with managers aware of their own responsibilities and the process when an employee calls in sick. Such policies should be enforced when there is non-compliance.

“Employees themselves do not like to see sickness absence policies abused, so where sick pay schemes are abused, for instance, work to tackle this and monitor any patterns of absence such as someone who is regularly off sick on a Friday or a Monday.

“For employees on long-term sick leave, absence should be kept under review with welfare meetings carried out regularly. Consider obtaining medical advice at an early stage to help the employee where you can.”