How to tackle recurring short-term absences

Repeated short-term absenteeism can present a problem for any business, but particularly for smaller companies with fewer staff. The ability of managers to deal with persistent short-term absenteeism in a correct and appropriate manner is essential, but this is an area that needs to be handled carefully.

Maguire Training's extensive Absence Management course can help business leaders and managers with every aspect of employee absenteeism. Among other topics Absence Management covers the deployment of an appropriate absence policy, defines absence and explores its underlying causes and equips delegates with the knowledge and strategies needed to effectively deal with staff absences of all kinds.

One of the most frustrating and frequently-encountered types of absence occurs when one or more employees is repeatedly and unexpectedly absent for a short period; anything between a single day and a working week.

The recurring nature of these absences can be detrimental to team-working and productivity and therefore they need to be managed proactively and effectively. Here, Maguire Training suggests a step-by-step approach that managers can follow to tackle recurring short-term absences.


Step 1: Have a clearly defined absence policy and ensure that staff are aware of it

A good absence policy should define the amount of absences within a set period of time (for example, six months) that is deemed 'reasonable', the time frame and ways in which employees must notify you of their absence and the potential consequences for any employee (e.g. formal warnings, deduction of pay or disciplinary action) who knowingly abuses the absence policy.


Step 2: Ensure that self-certification or GP certification is provided

The requirement of documentary evidence, whether provided by the employee or their doctor, for every instance of short-term absence may deter potential abusers but also provides a paper train which allows for the ongoing monitoring of absence and help to identify recurring instances.


Step 3: Hold informal 'return to work' discussions with absentees

Regardless of your suspicions that an employee may be 'faking' an ailment in order to take time off, as a manager you must adhere to company absenteeism policy and avoid the temptation to make accusations. Discussing with a persistent absentee, in an informal and non-challenging manner, the reason for their absence when they return may reveal a genuine underlying cause for repeated absence such as a recurrent illness or domestic problems.


Step 4: Ensure that workplace factors are not the reason for absences
Low morale, job dissatisfaction and employee conflict may all be underlying causes of repeated absenteeism. Communicate with your employees both individually and as a team and invite feedback in respect of any issues they may have or anything about which they may be personally unhappy. Identifying and addressing problems within the work environment as and when they arise will ensure a happier team and may rule out one root cause of short-term staff absence.

Every business stands to benefit from knowing how to deal appropriately and effectively with staff absenteeism and Maguire Training can help. Like many of their excellent training courses, Absence Management is available either as a one-day classroom-based course or, for those who prefer the convenience of learning in their own environment, as an online training module delivered via Maguire Training's innovative E-learning system.

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