Managing Sickness Absence for Employers

Sickness absence is an inevitable aspect of the modern workplace, and effective management of it is crucial for both employers and employees.

Sickness absence is an inevitable aspect of the modern workplace, and effective management of it is crucial for both employers and employees. Striking the right balance between compassion and productivity is the key to navigating this complex area of employment law. In this feature, we provide a concise overview for employers on how to manage sickness absence successfully.

Clear Policies and Procedures:
Establishing clear sickness absence policies and procedures is the foundation of effective management. Ensure that your employees are aware of the reporting mechanisms, such as whom to inform and when. Clearly outline expectations regarding medical certificates and communication during periods of absence. A transparent framework helps set expectations and ensures consistency in your approach.

Regular Communication:
Open communication is vital when managing sickness absence. Regularly check in with absent employees to express concern, offer support, and obtain updates on their health and potential return dates. Maintaining dialogue helps foster a positive relationship and can contribute to a smoother reintegration process when the employee is ready to return to work.

Medical Evidence and Occupational Health:
When appropriate, request medical evidence such as fit notes to validate sickness absence. Consider engaging with occupational health services to gain insights into an employee's health condition and obtain recommendations for adjustments or accommodations that can facilitate a timely return to work.

Return-to-Work Interviews:
Conduct return-to-work interviews to discuss the reasons for absence, any ongoing health issues, and potential support needed. These interviews help identify patterns of sickness, demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being, and provide an opportunity to address any workplace factors contributing to ill health.

Flexible Working Arrangements:
Where feasible, explore flexible working arrangements to accommodate employees with health concerns. This may include adjusting working hours, allowing remote work, or providing additional support in the workplace. Flexibility can contribute to employee satisfaction and retention.

Disability Considerations:
Be mindful of disability considerations under the Equality Act 2010. If an employee's health condition qualifies as a disability, employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to support their continued employment.

Consistency and Equality:
Apply sickness absence policies consistently to avoid claims of unfair treatment. Treat all employees equally, regardless of their role or length of service, and be mindful of potential discrimination issues related to sickness absence.

Effectively managing sickness absence requires a proactive and compassionate approach. By implementing clear policies, maintaining open communication, considering medical evidence, and embracing flexibility, employers can foster a workplace culture that prioritises employee well-being while ensuring operational efficiency. Balancing these elements is not only a legal obligation but also an investment in a healthier, more productive workforce.


Managing sickness absence training is important to ensure that employee absence is handled in a fair and consistent manner, helping managers to understand their legal responsibilities and provide them with the tools and techniques necessary to effectively manage sickness absence. It can also help to reduce the negative impact of sickness absence on productivity, morale, and costs.

Our training session includes:

• Managing employees with underlying health conditions and where medication can affect their role.
• Exploring when the support of occupational health would be appropriate.
• Considering when formal processes may be required in both short and long-term absences.
• Practical scenario on dealing with absence management.

You can find out more about our employment law training sessions by clicking on this link:

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