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An Easy Guide to Understanding Absence Management

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Whether you are an employee interested in learning the basics of absence management, or someone who wants to make a career in this field, I would like to introduce you to the basic concepts of absence management.

What is absence management?

Absence management can best be described as a combination of programs, policies and procedures used to manage, track and reduce employee absenteeism. The goal of a successful absence management program is to avoid workplace disruptions and to comply with leave laws, which have been expanded year after year. Absence management includes both planned and unplanned absence from work for various reasons, such as an employee's serious health condition, injury or illness, caring for a sick family member, caring for a newborn child or time off due to social responsibilities, to name a few.

Why is absence management important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), businesses experience lost productivity related to personal and family health problems amounting to approximately $225.8 billion annually. That equates to a cost of $1,685 per employee for US employers.

At the same time, it is often stressful circumstances that underlie the employees' absence, and it can therefore be reassuring to know that you are allowed to take time off.

A well-managed absence program offers significant benefits for both employers and employees:

  • Financial savings - Well-defined absence programs can reduce both direct and indirect costs related to employee absence. When an employee is away from work, the costs to the employer are multiplied. Not only is the employer responsible for paying out potential wages, such as PTO/sick time, but it also has an impact on lost productivity. This means that overtime must be paid for additional employees to cover the work, administrative costs to deal with the absence and additional costs to provide a substitute. The replacement costs may include costs related to finding and interviewing new talent as well as investing time and effort in training.
  • Compliance with Laws and Regulations - If the employer understands and complies with the various leave laws at the federal, state and municipal levels, he or she is less likely to engage in risky administrative behavior and poorly designed policies. Today's absence management programs must not only take into account the sickness absence rules, but also how they interact with the constantly changing leave arrangements with and without pay. A well-planned and documented approach to absence management can reduce the risk of lawsuits and investigations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Department of Labor.
  • Preventing absenteeism - By absenteeism is meant employees who continue to work while they are ill, disabled or impaired. This type of behavior can affect productivity and the quality of work, which can lead to challenges for employers. By using a well-managed absence program, giving employees the time they need when it is most critical for their health, and offering flexible working arrangements such as remote work, reduced working hours or accommodation, one can maximize employee productivity and reduce sick attendance in the workplace.
  • Integrating health and wellness programs - By offering exercise classes or discounted gym memberships, health screenings, counseling and workplace ergonomic assessments, you can promote employee well-being and participation in health and wellness programs that are often underutilized in this area.

Fortunately, the HR department does not have to deal with these challenges alone. Absence management software can make managing leaves a routine instead of a headache.

In conclusion, effective absence management, facilitated by tools like IceHrm, not only ensures compliance with laws and regulations but also fosters a healthier, more productive workplace for both employers and employees.

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