Despite the average number of days being taken off sick per employee dropping to an average of 5.3 days in 2012, workplace absence remains a major problem for businesses across the UK and costs the economy more than £14bn each year.
Businesses are well within their right to take a tough stance when it comes to workplace absence. Especially with regard to those that try to take advantage of the system and their overgenerous employers, rather than the rest of us who stay at home only when we are genuinely unwell.
While long-term absence is one of the greatest concerns for businesses, there is also an increasing need to tackle incidents where employees repeatedly take things a step too far. Reoccurring sick days are an example of this, with Mondays, heatwaves and major sporting events the most popular time for staff to ‘pull a sickie’. Not only does this reduce productivity and put significant pressure on other team members, but it also lowers staff moral and can encourage other employees to follow suit.
Over the years, employees have become more aware of their rights within the workplace, largely due to the availability of free advice. This has resulted in a rise in employees taking full advantage of their position, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it has increased the need for employers to protect themselves.
There is plenty that employers can do to minimise risk, whilst also remaining fair and acting sensitively towards their employee’s needs. It’s a case of having the correct policies and procedures in place and getting the professional advice and support at an early stage. The best advice is to monitor situations carefully and keep a record of everything!
If disciplinary action is required remember this can, in certain circumstances, take place while an employee is still off sick. This is a common misconception by many of my clients.
Workplace absence is not a time for employers to generalise or use a one-size-fits-all approach, as every case is different and must be treated on its own merit.
Businesses with queries or concerns about workplace absence can call Marsden Rawsthorn solicitors based in Preston and Chorley on: 0800 294 4410.
James Bellamy, Employment Law solicitor at Marsden Rawsthorn.
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