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The Role of Absence Management Systems

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What is absence management?

Absence management is primarily a program to control absences due to urgency, illness or injury, managing uninformed, unplanned or excessive absences. Absence management is indeed a very crucial factor that matters for the productivity of the workforce.

Why is absence management important?

It is important that managers implement an efficient and effective absence management system to reduce and eliminate absenteeism as much as possible. Absenteeism can be managed in different ways, and your company's work culture has a significant impact on this.

What are the absence management methods?

‍Companies must maintain contact with absent employees in a sensitive manner and develop a formal return-to-work strategy for those returning after an extended absence. Awareness of potential disability discrimination is also critical, and companies should have a disability leave policy that treats disability absence differently than sickness absence.

The manager's role in managing long-term absence is important, but other measures are also important. This includes:

1. Discussions about reintegrating into work, which have a supportive effect and in which ongoing adjustments are discussed, if necessary.

2. Incorporate occupational health and proactive measures to promote staff health and well-being.

3. Supportive case management, e.g. involving the human resources department, the occupational health service and the employee's direct superior.

4. Risk assessment to support return to work after long-term absence.

5. Changes to working patterns or working environments, including flexible working arrangements.

6. Return-to-work discussions.

What is the absence management policy?

‍Companies should have a clear policy that supports their corporate goals and culture and explains employees' rights and responsibilities during sick leave. The law requires employers to inform employees of all conditions relating to incapacity for work due to illness or injury, including all provisions regarding continued payment of wages.

The policy should:

1. Contain details on the contractual conditions for continued payment of wages in the event of illness and their relationship to the statutory continued payment of wages in the event of illness.

2. Explain when and who employees should notify if they cannot come to work.

3. Indicate when (after how many days) employees must complete the self-certification form.

4. Provide details on when workers must provide their doctor's medical certificate.

5. Explain how a screening or trigger point system used by the employer works.

6. Pointing out that the company reserves the right to request employees to be examined by a company doctor or an occupational health professional and (with the consent of the person concerned) to request a report from the employee's doctor

7. Include provisions for return-to-work discussions.

8. Explain that adjustments may be appropriate to assist the employee in returning to work as soon as possible.

9. Provide guidance regarding absence during major or adverse events (e.g. snow, pandemics, or popular sporting events such as the Olympics or World Cup).

What is the Absence Management Report?

‍Public sector staff absence costs an average of £835 per year per employee, according to a survey. Therefore, regularly monitoring absence in your organization is crucial to reduce costs, maximize employee productivity and improve employee experience, resulting in higher performance. But where should you start?

The key points to monitor are:

The type of absence that occurs for a specific employee:

Can you identify a pattern? Are the timing of absences cause for concern? Is there anything you can do to reduce this type of absence?

The type of absence that occurs in a department:

Is there a pattern that is of concern to a particular team or manager? Do you need to change work patterns or reduce workload, for example to minimize stress? Are leadership style adjustments necessary?

The type of absence that occurs in your organization as a whole:

Is there a higher number of absences due to a particular type of illness? For example, could you  Hold flu consultations or does cleanliness need to be improved to reduce the spread of germs? Do you have a high proportion of employees taking absenteeism due to stress and if so, what could you do to reduce this?

1. Long-term vs. short-term absence

‍It would be helpful to understand what type of absence requires your attention. Is it about short-term illnesses or is it about providing better support and care for those who have been absent for a long time?

2. Periods

‍Do you have a problem with absence in a certain time frame. This could be a specific day, a specific time of year or perhaps related to your type of work e.g. Be when the end of the year is approaching.

3. Benchmarking

‍Can you compare your absence to benchmarks in your industry? Do you know if this is a problem in your company or a standard? The CIPD has published an absence study with average statistics by sector, which you can access here.

4. Costs

Do you know how much absence actually costs your company, per employee, per department and across the company? Before taking action, you should have a starting point to work from and then review it periodically to see what actions can be taken to reduce that amount. Do you know how much continued payment of wages in the event of illness, statutory continued payment of wages or pension protection costs you? There are also indirect costs such as administrative time and lower productivity.

5. Frequency

‍How often is an employee absent? If you want to use a formal procedure, you need to quickly and easily know how often and why an employee is absent. Likewise, planning your budget to cover absences is impossible if you don't know how many days you expect to need to cover on average.

6. Triggers

‍If you have an absence policy with absence trigger conditions, you need to be able to monitor it clearly and quickly. Acting quickly and correctly during and after an absence is important in order to get your colleague back to work and reduce your costs. Monitoring triggers over time can reveal when action needs to be taken in line with your absence policy and support your absence process. Triggers can be the cumulative days of absence in a certain period, the number of absence cases in a certain period or the calculation of the Bradford factor.

How can good reporting help?


‍Good reporting can help ensure the employee is properly supported during the absence process.

Line Manager/Department Head:

‍Tracking absence and analyzing reports can help managers support employees and properly manage the absence process. You can identify trends and have more meaningful conversations with employees.

Headmaster/Managing Director:

‍Reporting can help the headteacher or chief executive assess the impact of absence across the organization and report back to senior staff, trustees or governors.

Multi-Academy Trusts/organizations with multiple locations:

‍Viewing reports across schools or locations can highlight issues that need to be addressed within the group or with specific managers.

How to take advantage of the benefits of an automated reporting system?

‍You can use software to automate the reporting process and generate a report. A report can contain:

1. Annual comparison

This compares absences over a certain number of academic years

2. Type of absence

‍Here you can see the type of absences, broken down by illness category

3. Timely comparison

‍Similar to the annual comparison, but over a certain number of semesters

4. Per department

‍Teacher/support/leadership etc.

5. Pro line manager

‍Only one view per line manager

6. All absences

The All Absences report is primarily used to extract absences for payroll over a specific period of time

7. Attendance Percentage Report

‍Employee attendance showing both 100% and percentage of absence.

8. Absence Cost Report

This report uses your employees' salary and absence data. The report calculates how much absence costs you by individual absence, by employee overview, by absence type and by department overview. This is very useful for senior leadership teams and governing bodies.

Effective absence management is vital for workplace productivity. Utilizing robust systems like IceHrm ensures strategic planning, early intervention, and comprehensive reporting, contributing to a healthier, more productive work environment.

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