The third week in January is a struggle – there’s no beating around the bush. Blue Monday they called 21st January. A perfect storm where broken resolutions met empty bank accounts! It’s a background that encourages some to think. “Do you know what, I’ll take a sickie – that’s one way to make things better.” This notion is backed up with statistical evidence. January and February are the months where the highest levels of sickness absence are recorded.

Reasons for absence

It’s not all down to duvet days. In fairness, colds and similar ailments may account for much of this absence. But it’s also Winter time when depression, anxiety and stress-related conditions are also at their highest. Added to this is ongoing management of long-term sickness absence.

How do you manage sickness absence in your workplace?

Are you aware of the costs to your business of not doing so?

In 2014 sickness absence costs UK Plc £16billion per year (source: xpertHR). These costs include the obvious such as sick pay and additional wages for staff cover. But they also include risks of lower efficiency amongst staff covering unfamiliar jobs, decreased morale and energy, and both management and administration time in recording and managing absence.  Absence means colleagues have to work harder!

Recommendations for managing sickness absence are:

  1. A robust absence management policy (speak to us if you don’t have one).
  2. Clearly defined staff procedures for calling in sick, self-certification and the submission of GP ‘fit note’.
  3. Awareness training for managers for understanding costs to the business, issues of long-term sickness, and disability implications.
  4. A vigorous recording, monitoring and evaluating system.
  5. Back to work interviews following EVERY period of absence.
  6. A return to work plan to reintroduce employees after long term absence.
  7. Clear procedures for dealing with non-genuine absence, with defined links to disciplinary procedures.
  8. Clear procedures for dealing with long-term or repeated absences with defined links to capability procedures and with regard to disability discrimination issues.

Back to work interviews and the effective use of disciplinary procedures are cited by the CIPD as having the most significant impact in reducing short-term sickness absence. Particularly where it is suspected that the sickness may not be genuine. Our clients report a cost saving within two months of introducing new absence policy and procedures. Improvements include more effective monitoring and the use of back to work interviews.

If you think that vivoHR can help you please call 0845 4639365 email

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