Laura Chalkley, Employment Advisory Service Manager at NPA business partner Ellis Whittam, explains how to deal with sickness absence
Do you suspect that there are employees who are lying or exaggerating their illness or injury to avoid attending work in your workplace? Does there seem to be an epidemic of employees who contract a 24 hour virus on Fridays? Or perhaps who take regular short-term absences when a big sporting event is on? If so, there is no reason to feel like it is an unmanageable situation.
Conduct return to work interviews
After each absence, you should carry out a return to work interview to probe into the reason for absence. If you have noticed particular patterns or a staff member has many frequent short-term absences, you can ask them whether there is a reason for it. It may act as a deterrent to know that their absences have been monitored, you are spotting specifi c trends and that disciplinary action may be taken.
Ask for medical evidence
If you have been given vague or inadequate reasons for absences, you may wish to ask for medical evidence. You can obtain medical evidence either from a GP or an Occupational Health Report. However, you will typically need the employee’s written authorisation. Asking for medical evidence may have the effect that absences reduce as it suddenly dawns on the employee that they are unable to provide any real evidence. If they decline or are very reluctant to consent to medical evidence, you will need to probe as to why.
Investigate the alleged misconduct
Conducting a well-thought out investigation allows managers to consider the matter fully before deciding whether disciplinary action is necessary.
For advice on this topic, call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.