Four Top Tips to Reduce Sickness Absence

Apr 22, 2016

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 10.8 days per employee per annum are lost to sickness absence in care services and managers often tell us that they find the task of managing repeated short term sickness challenging. The great news is that line managers are in a unique position to positively influence employees’ attendance at work .

The four most successful approaches to reducing sickness absence are:

- line managers carrying out return to work interviews

- setting trigger mechanisms,

- promoting employee wellness, and

- equipping your line manager with the confidence and skills they need to manage employee health issues.

1. Line Managers Return to Work Interviews

When an employee returns to work, the line manager should conduct an informal and supportive interview. The purpose of the interview is to update the employee on what has happened whilst they were away, review any condition(s) of the the fit note if applicable, cover the reason for their absence, any implications regarding sick pay and to discuss any support needs or adjustments the employee may need to return to work. This interview is effective for four reasons:

- it signals to the employee that line manager is taking an interest in their health;

- it provides you with important information about the employee’s health and capability to resume their duties;

- it allows the you to ensure there is nothing at work contributing to ill health;

- it provides an opportunity for employees to receive a work update.

Keeping a record of this interview will ensure that an audit trail is readily available.

2. Trigger Mechanisms

A trigger mechanism is a point at which a more formal review of an employee's absence is triggered. It is important for an organisation to set consistent trigger points for a long term sickness and short term persistent absence. It is more important to ensure these are applied consistently across the organisation.

There are a range of trigger mechanisms available, for example the Bradford Factor ‘points formula’ remains a popular mechanism for identifying persistent short-term absence. Visit for an explanation of the formula and how to apply it.

3. Promoting Employee Wellness

Proactive approaches to managing wellness include health promotions such as cycling to work schemes, employee assistance programmes, health eating and smoking cessation courses (often supported by the NHS)

Flexible working practices and changes to working patterns as well as the working environment can all help to support employees to juggle the demands of modern life and have gained traction as positive approaches to employee well being.

This goes a long way to tackling an increasing problem – stress, one of the most common cause of short term and long term absence.

4. Supporting Managers to Manage Sickenss Absnece

The most important factor is to ensure managers feel confident, supported and have the skills when managing employee health and sickness absence. Pivotal HR run a range of workshop for line managers on managing sickness absence and promoting employee wellness. To find out more click here and to book a place e-mail

The article is for information only and does not constitute professional or legal advice.

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