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How to Ensure Your Staff Take a Minimal Amount of Sick Days

The UK’s sickness rates are at an all-time record low of an average of 4.3 days per worker – the lowest number of sick days since records began. But, are your staff taking off more time than this?

If so, there are ways to reduce the number of days your staff are absent due to ill health.

Firstly, why should you be concerned about reducing sickness in your organisation? Well, for one thing, healthy employees are more likely to be productive. Also, you’ll reduce overall staff turnover (reducing recruitment and training costs), and you’ll also reduce your insurance and compensation costs too.

And, a minimal amount of sick leave will generate impressive statistics that might enhance your business’s reputation, attracting new talent and investment and ensuring you’re fully-staffed to take on bigger and better projects.

So, consider implementing the following steps to ensure your staff take a minimal amount of sick days.

First, create a sickness policy

A sickness policy will ensure that your employees understand your company’s approach to sick leave, as well as the procedures that are in place to manage ill health. You can detail the number of sick days that are paid at an employee’s usual salary, at what point statutory pay kicks in instead, and how longer or frequent periods of absence will be handled internally. Then, use HR solutions in conjunction with your sickness policy – you can use software to track sickness, easily identifying who’s calling in sick frequently or for prolonged periods, enabling you to see who may need further support or conversation about their attendance record.

Tackle common causes of work absence

Once your HR software has helped you to identify who among your workforce is taking more time off than you’d expect, talk to them. Have conversations with employees who demonstrate frequent short-term absences, ascertaining what it is that’s causing their sicknesses. Also have conversations with those who are returning to work after a long-term absence – ensuring their integration back into the office is smooth and comfortable can help to ensure they’re not absent again in the near future.

Be proactive

It’s also very important that you do whatever you can to reduce to absence in your workplace, rather than simply lecturing people for taking too much time off. This means fulfilling all of your obligations under health and safety law, conducting risk assessments, and delivering high quality training to all staff on health and safety.

It’s also beholden on you to ensure that your employees are subject to reasonable working hours, and it’s worth encouraging your employees to use their full holiday allowance, taking time off to rest and recharge throughout the year.

Also, consider implementing workplace health initiatives, such as opportunities to improve and maintain fitness (such as cycling to work scheme) or a healthy eating regime (such as free fruit and vegetables on occasion). Train all your staff about mental health as well as physical health, and support flexible working arrangements wherever possible: amended working hours, part-time working and working from home opportunities can ensure that employees don’t use sick days for day-to-day commitments such as caring for family members.

However, all of this said, remember that it’s perfectly normal for staff to take some sick days throughout the year. It’s rare that employees are fighting fit all year round, and encouraging staff into the office when they’re not well enough to be there only serves to spread germs around to other workers, impacting on absence and attendance across the board.

So, make sure you communicate the importance of keeping sick days to a minimum and what your business is doing to work towards those goals, but be sure to communicate the fact it’s perfectly OK to take a sick day when needed.


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