Friday, 21 September 2018 14:29

Managing Problem Sickness Absence

In our experience of supporting organisations with sickness absence issues, we tend to find that the vast majority of workers genuinely want to get back to work following sickness as soon as possible. Especially as most will have had their pay reduced to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the time that they are absent.

However, there are always exceptions and it’s probably fair to say that we have always had at least one case or another going on where we are supporting a client who is managing a case involving problem sickness absence.

Because employers haven’t been able to claim back SSP for some time now, an absent employee is not only completely unproductive but is in fact a financial liability. This can be exacerbated if the employer finds him or herself needing to take on temporary staff to cover the absence, particularly if there are targets or a specific workload to be met. For those businesses that have a sick pay scheme which enhances SSP, the incentive to return to work promptly is reduced even further.

Of course we should always give employees the benefit of the doubt. Genuine ill health can be very distressing for people. So by taking a consistent approach in dealing with sickness cases you can support the genuinely sick whilst weeding out those who are ‘swinging the lead’.

These days we usually recommend the intervention of an Occupational Health Professional to assess the person concerned. By involving an independent party, who will be a medically qualified professional, you have taken appropriate action to resolve the situation in a way that is planned to support your employee. This will be noted by a tribunal if a case ever gets to that situation.

The OHP will provide a report, including where appropriate, suggestions for reasonable adjustments in the employee’s job function or environment that will help him or her carry out their job or return to work. Ultimately we are trying to remove the barriers that stop people doing their job. For the genuinely ill this will be welcomed and for those whose illness is dubious you are removing places for them to hide.

Don’t forget that some sickness can be brought on by underlying conditions that are classed as disability for which discrimination under the Equalities Act 2010 carries unlimited penalties. Another good reason to involve an independent OHP. Of course, because of the nature of sickness, there is never going to be a one size fits all solution; but as usual, consistency in how it is handled is key.

Call or e-mail us for support and advice regarding managing sickness absence on 01452 331331 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 1719 times Last modified on Friday, 21 September 2018 14:32


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.