WORKPLACE RELATIONS SPECIALISTS 
Absence Interventions 
Effective interventions in managing short-term absence include: 
return-to-work interviews 
providing leave for family circumstances 
use of trigger mechanisms to review attendance 
disciplinary procedures for unacceptable absence levels 
changes to working patterns or environment, such as flexible working 
employee assistance programme 
itraining line managers in absence management 
involving occupational health professionals. 
Return-to-work interviews can help identify short-term absence problems at an early stage. They also provide managers with an opportunity to start a dialogue about any underlying issues which might be causing the absence. 
 
Disciplinary procedures for unacceptable absence should make it clear to staff that unjustified absence will not be tolerated and that absence policies will be enforced. It’s important that any underlying health conditions are taken into account as part of this process. 
 
Promoting a positive attendance culture, while emphasising that genuine sickness absence will be supported, can help to ensure illegitimate absence is not tolerated and attendance-focused initiatives are supported. 
 
The role of line managers 
Line managers have an important role to play in managing absence, and our research shows that managers take primary responsibility for managing short-term absence in two-thirds of organisations. However, only around half organisations train their line managers in the skills needed to do this effectively. Managers need good communication skills and the ability to create a trusting culture where employees feel able to flag issues at an early stage. If line managers can spot the early warning signs of potential problems, employees can be given appropriate support before matters escalate. 
 
Line managers need to be trained in: 
the organisation’s sickness absence policies and procedures 
their role in the attendance management process 
the way fit notes operate and how to act upon any advice given by the doctor 
the legal and disciplinary aspects of absence, including potential disability discrimination issues 
maintaining absence record-keeping and understanding facts and figures on absence 
how the trigger points system operates (where applicable) 
the role of occupational health services and proactive measures to support staff health and well-being 
managing complex cases with the support of occupational health professionals and HR 
developing return-to-work interview skills 
the skills needed to raise and discuss potential issues, including those related to more complex or sensitive problems. 
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Tagged as: Absence Management
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