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Sickness problems with employee

(7 Posts)
BlueCat2010 Fri 30-Sep-11 16:21:24

I have an employee who has worked for us just over 1 year, and recently they have been taking a lot of time off sick. They may be genuine reasons for the absense hmm but it's really taking toll on the rest of us as it is a small business.

As a manger what can I do to encourage them not to take so much time off? I've read about return to work interviews etc, but is there anything else? Can I discipline them for taking too much time off sick if there is nothing in their contract about it?

Many thanks foir any ideas or experiences you can share - I've never had this problem in the 10 years of being in this role or any personal experience I can draw on!

Marlinspike Fri 30-Sep-11 16:34:01

You need to establish the nature of the sickness. Do they have an underlying chronic condition? What do the sick notes say? Are we talking lengthy periods of sickness or the odd day here and there? Is the sickness related to the work they do?

You need to establish all these things by talking first to your employee. Your next course of action depends very much on the outcome of this. You could be looking at contacting the employee's GP (with their consent) to obtain a medical opinion, or getting advice from an occupational health consultant. You may need to review the employee's working hours / pattern, or make reasonable adjustments to their role. Alternatively you may be looking at a capability or disciplinary issue, if after investigation you believe there is no medical reason for the absences.

think REASONABLE in all you do; don't jump to conclusions, and take notes from any meetings you have with the employee. In my work I have experienced cases of ill-health which have been resolved by initiating a carefully monitored return to work programme, and in one case a complete change of role. I have also experienced an employee whose sickness absence led eventually to capability issues, and who left the organisation

BerylStreep Fri 30-Sep-11 16:43:08

Do you have a formal absence policy? If not, you should have one. It should outline reporting procedures (e.g. phone manager in person before 9.30am), return to work interviews, and unacceptable absence.

Our place has the Bradford factor, which is a way of highlighting and managing unacceptable absence. Different places have different triggers, but ours is basically multiply the number of days off in a 12 month period x no of absences squared.

So 3 periods off sick, for 2 days each would be:

6 x 3 x 3 = 54

Our first trigger is 90, and at the point a warning is issued, and the Bradford factor is reduced to 50 for the next year. Further breach of a trigger results in a further warning, then dismissal for reasons of ineffectiveness.

You need to ensure that allowance is made for absence relating to DDA conditions, maternity, and accidents at work.

flowery Fri 30-Sep-11 16:51:29

If you're a small business I can't really give you free specific advice but have a read here

BlueCat2010 Fri 30-Sep-11 17:08:27

Thanks ever so much!

We have a procedure in place with regards to what to do when reporting in sick, self cert/fit to work notes, and SSP only pay rates but not a return to work procedure (I guess I'm lucky in that we've never needed one!).

Their main absence was a completely genuine reason, I'm 100% sure of that, but just recently they have been taking odd days here and there on Mondays and Fridays, which is why I am thinking they are not so genuine. It's definately a good point that there may be an unlying reason - I'll have an informal chat on Monday (if they come in!) and take it from there.

The Bradford factor is interesting - I'll be looking more deeply into that one, and will look at factoring it into a new policy if possible.

Thanks for the link Flowery - I'll sit down and have a good read when I've got a bit more time, as it's time to lock up now.

Much appreciated!

fluffles Fri 30-Sep-11 17:14:27

the point of a return to work interview should be to find out if work is aggravating the illness or if there's any reasonable adaptation or compromise which would allow them to take less sick time.

for e.g. if they're suffering something that's worse in the morning (eg. IBS sometimes) then you could offer the opportunity for them to come in later on those days and work later rather than call in sick all day...

or if they're having personal problems or stress then maybe a wee bit of flexibility to sort out childcare etc might fix it..

or if they're hating work, can you do something to re-motivate them (more responsibility) or to de-stress them (less responsibility).

i would approach this from the perspective of assuming that the employee would work if they could and see if you can come to an agreement... only if that doesn't work should you think about sanctions and discipline (carrot much better than stick in most situations).

BlueCat2010 Fri 30-Sep-11 21:14:10

Thanks Fluffles, definately points to consider. I'm wondering if they have taken too much on as they work a job on the weekend (our job is weekdays). I'm also wondering if it is 'partner pressure' as they are less than supportive of this employee working!

Whatever is going on it needs to stop as the workload for everyone else is killing us!

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