Absence notification procedures are usually the starting point of a good absence management process. The employee’s return to work will signify the end of the procedure but the period in between these events can be a problem area for employers.
They are often unsure of their position in respect of how involved they can become. Keeping in contact with the employee during the absence – and even a face to face visit – is advisable and can clarify many questions.
Absence notification procedures will normally require employees who are too ill to attend work to inform their employer of their absence and how long they think it might last.
For the first few days of absence, procedures may require notification every day but when absence becomes longer and is supported by a fit note, is daily contact necessary? The answer is ‘probably not’.
However, a sick employee should not be left languishing on absence and employers should take the following measures to keep on top of it:
Although these measures are important, the point needs to be made at this stage that reasonable contact during sickness absence is perfectly permissible and a sign of a responsible employer. However, employers need to strike the right balance between acting in the best interests of the business and being a sympathetic manager. Employees may be sensitive or embarrassed about their absence and an appropriate, rather than intrusive, intervention from the employer is needed.