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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

How HR Can Help You Reduce Sickness Related Absence

According to a survey completed by YouGov for ACAS, 26% of employers have seen an increase in staff being off sick since 2022.

"Employers who handle sickness absences effectively can help reduce it." – Susan Clews, ACAS Chief Executive

But what are the expectations when handling such a sensitive situation in a professional way? Is there an industry standard, or should your policies be flexible? And can a HR consultant help?


Seasonal Sickness


You might have noticed that when you start work in a new place, or your children attend school again after the summer – you get sick. This is because our immune systems can only learn to combat the sicknesses we’ve come across in small doses, if there’s a sickness it hasn’t come across before, it has to work harder to fight it off. The unfortunate consequence of Lockdowns is that in avoiding the spread of COVID19, we’ve increased our chances of getting other respiratory sicknesses such as flu and Strep A (two examples of increased hospital admissions) because we’re not prepared for these adapted viruses. This means we might get sick more often, and feel the effects for much longer.


Equally, as our children return to school, the advice has always been that if students are unwell they should not attend school – which directly impacts working parents who may not have alternative childcare. Seasonal sickness is likely to cause increases in staff absences and a reduction in performance. Although, COVID19’s protocols and policies act as great prevention tactics for other illnesses, and clear strategies from managers can help keep staff healthy.


How can Employers Reduce Sickness?


So what are the expectations for employers? Whilst there doesn’t appear to be an industry standard when it comes to general sickness, there are some professional standards which any employer can meet that will reduce sickness-related absenteeism. They are:

  • Having an absence policy with clear expectations for both managers and staff.

  • Creating a supportive work culture so that staff can raise concerns and trust they’ll be taken seriously.

  • Finding a way to support against the cause of the absence.


Absence Policy


When it comes to creating and implementing your absence policy, an HR consultant can be invaluable. There are several factors which you’ll need to take into consideration, such as:

  • How employees plan or contact the Company regarding an absence.

  • What the review conditions of the absence would be (how long and how often are the absences for example).

  • What supports will be in place when the employee returns to work.


How can SWan HR Help


If left unaddressed, continued absence can have a substantially negative affect on your team, but as I said above, a HR consultant can help. SWan HR can help determine what the underlying causes of the absences are, through reviewing your policies and return documentation, as well as talking to employees and staff members, conducting surveys and monitoring the processes already in place, as well as helping curate systems and policies for smaller and newer businesses who have not yet experienced these roadblocks before. We can also coach for your supervisors and managerial staff to apply the new policies for the best outcome, and provide additional support in instances where the situation needs to be escalated.


So the question becomes, when was the last time you reviewed your absence policy, and could a HR consultant help reduce absences within your business? Contact us today and find out.


SWan HR Consultancy (London and Kent)


SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.


SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.


Free HR consultation


Contact Susan Wakelin now to take advantage of a free half-hour consultation to talk through your initial HR concerns and how you can manage these going forward.

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