There are many HR issues that you will be faced with as an employer.  In our experience, across all sectors and regardless of how large or small your Company is, it appears that the most common issue is absence management!  The smaller the workforce, the bigger the impact which is why it’s so important to have an absence management policy in place. 

Absence’s have a major impact on meeting client deadlines, increases costs, increasing the workload of other employees and also creates a poor impression with clients.

Top Tips for Absence Management

Download here

Here at Spectra HR, we have been working for the last couple of years with a manufacturing business, where staff work shift patterns that operate 24/7.  

Our client had been blighted by poor attendance for several years, staff were not following the absence reporting procedures and failing to provide the necessary fit notes.   

When they first spoke to Spectra HR they were at the end of their tether.  

Our client’s absenteeism was running at almost double the national average!   

We worked with our client to implement a sickness absence management policy that meant they were able to tackle the problem in a fair, consistent and structured manner.  

Although the national average for 2023 was on the rise and the estimated sickness absence per employee was up to 7.8 days…. with our support our client is bucking the national trend and has seen their absence fall significantly. 

Absence trigger systems

Sickness absence has a massive impact on businesses, so it is no wonder why many employers rely on absence trigger systems to identify issues impacting employee’s attendance. 

Whilst absence triggers are a great aid to managing sickness absence, as proven by the the tribunal ruling on Caroline McKenzie Vs the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, employers must understand the reason for the sickness absence before acting. Read our full blog here

What should I do if an employee has a health problem?

Every case of sickness absence should be treated on an individual basis. Not every disability is visible; if an employee is consistently hitting absence triggers, the employer should speak with them in the first instance and identify any issues. 

A condition may be considered a disability if it affects the employee daily and is likely to affect them for at least twelve months. If an employee has a disability, or is off long-term sick, the employer should refer to their medical capability procedure, rather than taking disciplinary or dismissal action. 

It’s important to hold a welfare meeting.  Read our guidance on how to approach the meeting and what to ask. 

Looking for experienced HR consultants to support your business, Get in touch with us today to book a free HR review and speak to one of our HR specialists

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
You cannot view content from as your current cookie consent preference is ‘Allow only necessary cookies’. You can change this at any time by clicking the ‘Cookie Settings’ button in the footer of this website.

What is a phased return to work?           

A phased return is often recommended by a doctor as a reasonable adjustment.   Employers have a legal obligation to explore adjustments and should not dismiss recommendations out of hand.  Don’t make the same mistake as this employer in the case L Bristow v Craigard care. 

Welfare Meeting Guidance

Download here


It is advisable to keep in touch, your employee may be feeling isolated and worried about losing their job.  

Accordion Item Description

We often hear that employees don’t want to be contacted, but as the employer you have every right to keep in touch.  You need to know how your employee is doing, when you can expect them back in work and if you need to be considering light duties or a phased return.  Our advice is to arrange a welfare meeting, after the employee has been off for 4 weeks.

Employees will often request light duties when they return to work, following advice from their doctor.  Light duties support an employee to return to work following an accident or injury but in the construction industry, it’s often not that easy as the work is manual labour intensive.  If you can’t provide light duties, then unfortunately the employee will have to remain off sick.  

Occupational Health intervention is a positive step, and referral to a specialist will provide expert medical opinion on the employee’s fitness for work and make recommendations regarding light duties and reasonable adjustments. 

Any injury that has a long-term and substantial impact on an employee means that they may be defined as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.  In these situations, the employer has a legal obligation to explore long-term reasonable adjustments at work, to support the employee and to avoid a discrimination claim.  A short-term arrangement of light duties may not be feasible to continue long-term.  

You only have to pay in line with the terms set out in their contract of employment.  Many companies who are only contractually obliged to pay SSP do tend to pay extra, to top up earnings after an accident.  If you do, our advice is to review this on an ongoing basis and make it clear to the employee, in writing, that any additional sick pay is discretionary and should not be seen as an admission of guilt regarding the accident or mean that discretionary sick pay will become the norm.