Summer Sun and Absence Management
Summer heat can lead to a number of employment issues, attendance being one. Employee absence can be a significant cost to business. It can cause lost or delayed production, low morale and reduce the overall standard of service within the organisation. Managing attendance means tackling the possible causes of absence and addressing problems such as lateness and poor time keeping – and the desire to catch a few rays, or escape from the relentless heat.
There are many reasons why people may take time off work, including short-term sickness, long-term sickness, authorised leave such as maternity, paternity or annual leave, family or carer responsibilities and unauthorised absence or persistent lateness. During the summer months, would it be too cynical to also suggest that at this time of year one or two of our workforce might pull the odd “sickie” for a bit of summer sun?
Whatever the reasons, it is important to track, measure and monitor attendance to suss out underlying causes, potentially highlight patterns of behaviour, spot unhealthy stress levels that are left unchecked, or identify repeat offenders of lateness or unauthorised absence.
During a summer heat wave, working conditions do become more difficult. Legally is there a maximum temperature that employees can work in? This is a common question being asked of our HR Helpline team at the moment and the answer is no, there is no legal maximum temperature at work. it is important to provide more regular comfort breaks from the heat, suitable breathable PPE and cooling stations. Keeping employees hydrated and cool both indoors and out can help to improve morale and reduce absenteeism.
More and more employers are seeing an increase in both short and long term stress related absence and reported mental health problems. Attention needs to shift to understanding and addressing the contributory factors in the workplace that are leading to an increase in such absence. Well being offerings are on the increase, as employers take action to support Mental Health.
Taking Holiday During Sick leave
This is a common question that we hear time and time again on the HR helpline. It is common that if someone is off on long-term sick leave, they may want to take some holiday. An employee and employer can agree to use some of the holiday entitlement to offset some of the sickness absence, this is likely to be when an employee is off long term and may be receiving SSP or no pay and wish to increase their pay for a period.
Managing attendance often means tackling possible causes of absence, such as working patterns, job design and employee relations. This can also include addressing problems such as lateness and poor time keeping. If issues arise, they can often be dealt with informally by line managers in the first instance. Unauthorised absence is often the “odd day off” when employees gives little or no reason for the absence. Whether paid or unpaid this type of absence can be costly to an organisation as it is unpredictable and can often lead to disciplinary action being considered.
It is important to monitor absence levels to find out how much they are costing you. Absence costs the UK economy around £17 billion a year from falling behind in production, damage to company reputation, reducing morale and the costs of hiring temporary labour. Organisations need to have a clear policy in place which describes the procedures for employees notifying you when they are absent, the purpose and nature of “return to work interviews” and any triggers for possible action. Line managers and senior staff should also ideally have some sort of Absence Management training in order to help them to effectively deal with employee attendance. In the case of unauthorised absences, it’s important to issue an unauthorised absence letter.
If you need help defining your absence policy, writing unauthorised absence letters, or tracking attendance, get in touch, we are happy to help.