absence management

Where were you on Monday?


If you were in the office on Monday there is a good chance you felt a bit lonely. It is estimated that a record number of office workers phoned in sick on the day that is now commonly known as “National Sickie Day”. The mass workplace absence that occurs each year on the first Monday of February has been correlated with a combination of depressing February factors, including bad weather, the short days and the financial hangover from Christmas.

While most bosses give their employees the benefit of the doubt when it comes to short-term illness absence, unforeseen employee absence, especially when on a large scale, does come at a huge cost. On National Sickie Day, businesses across the UK are estimated to have lost £34million. In addition to lost productivity, there are less financially obvious repercussions of staff shortages, such as how it can considerably sap workplace energy and the number of admin hours some companies spend tracking employee absence.

For small to medium-sized companies, employee management tasks can be time-consuming and administration-heavy, with absence management being one of the most complicated. Evidence of this can be seen in a recent CIPD report, which found that employee absence costs businesses an estimated £595 per employee every year.

We all get the occasional cold or flu and need to take a day away from the office to get better (and to not infect the rest of the team!). However, to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible, it is advisable as an employer or HR manager to regularly review short-term absences, to see whether there are any patterns to any employee’s absences (e.g. a collection of Fridays or absences grouped around bank holidays) so that these patterns can be addressed if necessary. It is also helpful to review absence histories as an indicator of whether absence patterns are improving or getting worse. This may enable further discussions with employees around possible underlying causes when patterns are unusual or the number of days taken is higher than average.

To reduce the cost of short-term absence, it is essential to have an efficient, reliable and inexpensive system in place to manage it. To help guide you in developing and managing an employee absence policy, we have created a free eBook that will get you on your way to better absence management.

In addition to information on how to handle sick days, the eBook covers the following topics:

  • Absence levels on the rise
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Short-term illness absence
  • Long-term illness or injury absence
  • Return-to-work plans
  • Bereavement absence
  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Designing your absence management policy

Download your free copy of our best practice guide to absence management here.

Image thanks to Pixabay


Please excuse my absence: 5 outrageous reasons for taking a day off


We’ve all had one of those mornings. The kind when we wake up and, while we’re not absolutely, technically, certifiably sick, we could definitely do with staying in bed and catching up on some ‘me time’. Most of us will indulge in a snooze button hit or two, but some will go so far as to fake illness or invent an elaborate excuse for not going into the office. Need to fake a doctor’s note? There’s even an app for that! And the rule seems to be: The more incredible the better.

For beleaguered business owners and HR managers, keeping on top of employee absence and sick leave is a hard enough job in itself without having to be a human lie-detector too. It’s impossible to be sure who’s pulling a fast one and who’s being honest. Especially when, the truth is stranger than fiction as outrageous circumstances conspire against well-meaning workers to keep them from their desks.

We’ve scoured the internet and compiled a list of the top 5 real-life reasons given for missing a day of work. Read on and enjoy, and next time you’re tempted to pull a sickie, spare a thought for these hapless employees and the HR headaches they created.

1. “My dog’s having a nervous breakdown”

Now, we understand that pets are an important part of many people’s lives, and that owners often boast close psychic ties with their four-legged friends, but this employee took it to an extreme. While we don’t doubt the dog in question may be suffering, it seems to us that the owner could do with a once-over too, so it’s probably best they make a visit to the vet (followed by the doctor).

2. “I forgot I had been hired”

Forgetting your new email password, we can understand. Maybe even your colleagues’ names. But forgetting you got the job? This doesn’t bode well as a sign of the employee’s dedication to the new role, let alone their mental faculties. It’s probably best for all concerned if this false-start new-starter calls it quits, their zero per cent attendance record intact.

3. “My dead grandmother is being exhumed for a police investigation”

We’ve all heard the one about having to go to your grandmother’s funeral – that favourite of schoolday scivers (I knew a boy who, remarkably, had lost ten grandparents before reaching high school). This excuse adds a new twist to the tale, with plenty of intrigue for good measure.

4. “I can’t get to work because my 12-year-old daughter stole my car”

This excuse has all the hallmarks of high drama: family discord, crime, split loyalties and a challenge to overcome. Left without transport, the victim of the crime understandably wanted to keep the police out of it. However, the story does fall a little short in the drama stakes. Our hero did not overcome adversity, remaining carless at curtains. We’re left guessing about loose ends, like whatever happened to the vehicle and the young GTA enthusiast? If any employers find themselves on the receiving end of a similar absence note, we recommend steering clear: best to avoid any risk of being implicated as an accessory or co-conspirator.

5. “I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am”

While I must make clear that at SMB.co.uk we don’t condone such Bacchanalian excesses, we do doff our HR caps to this employee for his honesty. It sounds like a post-Christmas party hangover that no amount of morning coffee could shift. The question is, did he make it back home before or after his P45 landed on the doorstep?

Need a better absence management system? Start your free 14-day trial of SMB.co.uk today!

Image thanks to Feelart from Freedigitalphotos.net