Sickness Absence Management is Crucial for Employers

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A recent report showed that sickness absence is costing the British economy over £100bn a year, and managers would be wise to ensure their sickness absence management policies are properly documented and up to date.

Work-related ill-health is costing Britain more than £100bn a year, according to a recent report - more than the entire NHS budget or the annual GDP of Portugal - so employers need to make sure they have a good quality sickness policy in place for cases of sick leave and long term sickness.

In the UK, we collectively take 175m days of sick leave a year, averaging out at seven days per person per year. In light of these figures, says Simply-docs Managing Director Iain Mackintosh, 'companies would be wise to ensure they have adequate sickness absence management policies and the correct documents in place to deal with any potential cases of sick leave which might lead to long term sickness.

'Completing the correct documents is good practise for employers,' says Mackintosh. 'It proves to any outsiders that the company has abided by legislation and acted fairly and reasonably if there is any difficulty or discrepancy later on, concerning an employee's sick leave.'

There are several types of forms available to help employers improve their sickness absence management, says Mackintosh. He recommends employers make use of any of these six documents, all of which are provided by his company, should the relevant situation arise:

1) Sickness Policy and Absence Policy

Having a Sickness and Absence Policy document is useful as it makes clear to employees their rights and responsibilities concerning any sick leave they might take. The Simply-docs version covers these four essential issues:

1. Sickness and Absence Reporting Procedures
2. Sick Pay
3. Prolonged or Persistent Absence
4. Other Absences

2) Sickness Self Certificate form

The Sickness Self-Certificate Form is used during periods of Sickness Absence. The Company may conduct a return to work interview to discuss Absence and Illness.

The Sickness Self-Certificate form should be completed for Sickness Absence of up to 7 calendar days. Sickness Absence of more than 7 calendar days should require a Medical Certificate.

3) Absence and Illness Return to Work form

The Return to Work Form is applied post absence and illness from employment. The Employer is required to conduct a return to work interview to discuss absence and illness. The form contains the following parts:

1. Interview and sickness absence details
2. Further details about nature of illness/injury/absence
3. Optional questions
4. Manager's recommendation regarding this absence

4) Request for Medical Examination re. Persistent and Prolonged Sickness

The Request for Medical Examination Letter is sent by the employer to the employee in cases of prolonged or persistent sickness absence.

The Sickness and Absence Policy provides for the Company to be sympathetic to cases of genuine illness or incapacity, and states that prolonged or persistent sickness absence may be investigated.

It further states that where there is concern for an employee's health and ability to carry out their work, the Company reserves the right to seek medical opinion by asking the employee to agree to undergo an independent medical examination and/or obtain a report from the employee's own doctor. Refusal to do this may lead to the commencement of the Company's Disciplinary Procedures and Policy.

5) Prolonged Sickness Absence Extension Letter

The Absence Extension Letter confirms that employment may be at risk if the employee is unable to return to work on or prior to the end of this extension period, and that the employer will continue to visit to ascertain the employee's condition and ability to return to work.

6) Prolonged and Persistent Sickness Dismissal Notice

The Dismissal Notice Form is applied in the case of prolonged and persistent sickness absence.

The Dismissal Form is used only after the Employer has sympathetically considered and investigated the prolonged and persistent sickness absence of the employee; offered positive assistance and consulted with the employee at various stages of the sickness absence and once medical opinion has been sought.

The employee should be informed of the right to appeal and the number of days within which the appeal must be made.

About Simply-docs:
Simply-docs ( is the latest fulfilment of Simply-4-Business Limited's mission to enable small and medium enterprises and owner managers to put in place correct documentation and procedures, and then to keep pace and comply with regulatory change at an affordable cost.

The company provide over 950 business and legal documents and templates, covering all aspects of business from sickness absence to health and safety regulations. By providing these legal documents (with content provided by leading commercial lawyers, HR and health & safety consultants) at an affordable price, the company intends to help small businesses avoid costly breaches of regulation and legal action.

Iain Mackintosh, Managing Director
Tel: 020 8878 7236


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Corinne Mansfield
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