Short term sickness absence can either refer to recurring absences, such as the employee who is always sick on a Monday or Friday, or periods of absence of around one month or less at a time.
The most important thing in dealing with short term sickness absence is making sure that you have in place a means of monitoring employees’ absences.
Once you have a procedure in place you can keep a close eye on absences and can manage them more effectively.
It is important to set out what your attendance goals are, so that you can identify when someone is not meeting those standards.
When you are first concerned about an employee’s sickness absence, see if the matter can be dealt with informally: speak to the employee, ask if there are any underlying problems and reiterate your attendance standards.
If the employee’s attendance does not improve or does not improve enough, instigate a performance improvement plan: meet with the employee formally, set out in writing what is required of them and explain that if there’s no improvement, disciplinary sanctions will follow.
The disciplinary sanctions would normally start with a written warning, followed by a final written warning, followed by dismissal, if there’s no improvement.
Make sure at each stage that the employee is given sufficient time to improve.
Be careful if the employee has dependants that they have to take care of; if their absences relate to caring for a child or disabled relative, make sure you take advice to avoid a potential discrimination claim.