Ditch the duvet day

February saw the arrival of “National Sickie Day”. The first Monday in February is statistically the day that people are most likely to call in sick with cold, flu or food poisoning being the most popular excuses. Whilst the odd “duvet day” might not seem like too much of an issue for a single employee, combined they can make a huge impact on the bottom line of a business and on the UK economy as a whole. According to Occupational Business Management (OHBM) in 2013, 131 million working days were lost due to sickness – an average of 4.4 per employee. In 2014 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that the total annual UK cost of sickness absence was in the region of £29 billion.

What is the answer?
It is possible to manage sickness absence effectively, and often prevention is better than cure. Putting the right policies in place will allow you to spot issues and offer support. Consider the following;

  • In the first instance, a robust sickness absence management policy needs to be in place. This includes absence reporting and recording procedures, applied equally to all of your staff. You cannot manage sickness absence if you do not record it.
  • The frequency and methods of contact between you and your absent employee should be agreed between all parties. You should propose regular reviews to discuss the individual’s progress, problems and their return to work plans.
  • Return to work interviews are a really good practice, talk to your employee about any concerns they may have about recurrence, and steps you can take to help prevent this.
  • Help to support your staff and encourage them to look after their own health and wellbeing by promoting a healthier lifestyle when possible.
  • By having a fair, transparent and robust policy for dealing with sickness absence and encouraging good communication across your company you should find that the National Sickie Day doesn’t leave you yearning for your bed!