Absent Without Leave – Managing Absence in the Workplace

 Absent Without Leave – Managing Absence in the Workplace


According to the Institute of Psychiatry (April 2005), for the first time, stress, anxiety and depression have overtaken physical ailments as the most common cause of long-term skilled San Antonio Attorney   absence from work. With sickness absence reportedly costing employers an average of £522 per employee per year (or an average of 10 lost working days), there are good reasons to look closely at the root causes of absenteeism and, where possible, provide early intervention to support employees in regaining their health.

Short-term absence

Short-term absence is usually defined as a period of absence of less than ten consecutive working days, and will usually be as a result of the employee suffering from a minor medical condition.

Persistent short-term sickness is one of the most common problems employers have to face. Arranging temporary cover when an employee is off sick may not always be viable, and is often both disruptive and costly. Many employers therefore adopt the approach of persuading existing employees to cover for absentees on an ad hoc basis.

While this may work in the short term, when applied over longer periods it puts pressure on existing staff, as they struggle to do their own work in addition to that of an absent colleague. The effect of this on staff morale can be damaging and counterproductive. Staff frequently feel resentful if required to do two jobs – often within the same timescale and for no extra remuneration. The situation may be further compounded when the absentee employee returns to work and is met with resentment from those who have had to cover for them during their absence.

Long-term absence

Long-term absence is defined as any period of absence in excess of ten consecutive working days. Such absence – particularly where it is stress-related – presents a different problem for employers. In the short-term they may feel able to cover an absence internally, whereas in the longer term it may be necessary to recruit temporary staff who will normally require induction training and may not necessarily fit in well with existing teams. Temporary staff will also increase the salaries and wages bill, as well as involving the payment of costly agency fees.

After a long-term absence, a phased return to work will most certainly be recommended, with possible training needed to support the employee ‘back into work’. Where rehabilitation is not an option, the costs of premature retirement due to ill-health will also need to be taken into account. Stress therefore has a quantifiable impact not only on health, safety and individual well being, but on the operational and financial performance of the organisation as a whole.

Attendance patterns

The link between stress and absence is so well proven that statistics on non-attendance are often used as an indicator of stress ‘hot spots’ within an organisation. These figures may also be used to measure the effectiveness of stress management interventions.

In the analysis of attendance patterns, any extended periods of sick leave will immediately be apparent. Obviously, a stress-related illness or injury cannot be ‘undone’, but positive steps can still be taken by actively managing the return to work of the employee, and to minimise the risk of any identified stress reoccurring.



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