Excessive absenteeism by employees can be costly for employers in terms of
replacement costs and lost productivity. If not managed properly, chronic
offenders can also be a source of frustration for those employees who
generally do the right thing.
What follows are some suggestions to improve attendance in the workplace.
1. Make Employees Aware of Expectations
Ensure that employees are aware of attendance expectations and the effects
of excessive absenteeism on the business including remaining team members,
productivity and customer service. This sort of information should be made
clear at an employee’s induction and reinforced through the company’s
manual, code of conduct and/or Personal/Carer’s Leave policy.
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2. Analyse Attendance Records
Analyse attendance records to properly identify the extent of employee
absence and any particular trends for example, employees who seem to always
be off on a Monday or a Friday or before or after a public holiday. Employees
with such casual attitude to work should be confronted and asked for an
explanation as to why their absences mostly seem to occur on particular days.
3. Have a Clear Policy in Place
Have a clear policy and procedure that employees must follow if they are going
to be absent from work. Employers could require that employees:
i. Make direct contact with a manager or someone in authority to
advise of their absence, the nature of their illness and when they
expect to return to work. Do not allow employees to just speak with
the receptionist or send an email or text messages to a work
colleague. If an employee is not genuine about being sick, they may
think twice if they are required to speak directly with the boss.
ii. Are expected to make contact by a certain time or within a specified
iii. Are required to provide evidence of their illness which may be a
doctor’s certificate or statutory declaration.
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4. Make Employees Aware of the Consequences
Make employees aware of the consequences of not adhering to the company’s
Personal/Carer’s leave policy which may include disciplinary action. Ensure to
focus on whether the employee has followed the correct notice and evidence
procedures rather than to establish whether the person was genuinely sick or
not. Only a Doctor is qualified to do that.
5. Follow up With Employees Upon Their Return to Work
Follow up with employees face to face when they return to work and enquire
about their wellness and whether they are fit to resume normal duties. This
lets the employee know that the employer is concerned about their well-being
and has noticed their absence.
6. Identify Any Hidden Causes
Identify any hidden causes. Often poor attendance is just a symptom of a
greater problem and not the real cause. Aside from common illness, there can
be many reasons why an employee is taking excessive sick leave:
• Drug and alcohol problems
• Issues with a work colleague or supervisor
• Not coping with workload or some other aspect of their work
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• Martial issues
• Work/life balance
Before launching into disciplinary action, it is advisable to speak with the
employee concerned and try to uncover the root cause of the problem. You
may then be able to determine some strategies to address the situation.
Ensure to have a Drug and Alcohol Policy in place and adhere to it. The policy
should include a provision for Drug and Alcohol counselling/support for
employees who are willing to accept it.
Drug and Alcohol abuse may be viewed as a disability and therefore if an
employee claims they have a drug or alcohol dependency, the employee’s
absence should be assessed in that context.
• Confront any conflict or other issues that may exist between team
members or supervisors with a view to resolving them
• Provide further training/coaching/mentoring if the employee is not
coping with the workload. Sometimes employees need to be shown how
to work more efficiently and ways to cope under pressure.
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RN LEGAL has assisted many clients with employment-related matters. RN
LEGAL has the experience, expertise, and resources to help you with your
Contact RN LEGAL on (02) 9191 9293 or email@example.com if you, or someone
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