The Importance of Effective Sickness Absence Management

Sickness absence is a significant concern for employers in the UK, with the cost of employee absence estimated at £14 billion per year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Effective sickness absence management is crucial for minimising the impact of absence on business operations, promoting employee well-being, and ensuring compliance with legal obligations.

Key Elements of Sickness Absence Management Standards

To effectively manage sickness absence, employers should establish clear standards that outline expectations, processes, and best practices. These standards should include:

Absence Reporting and Recording

  • Clear procedures for employees to report sickness absence, including whom to contact and when
  • Consistent and accurate recording of absence data, including reasons for absence and duration
  • Regular analysis of absence data to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement

Return-to-Work Interviews

  • Conducting return-to-work interviews with employees following every absence
  • Using interviews to discuss the reason for absence, any necessary support or adjustments, and updated absence records
  • Providing a supportive and non-judgmental environment to encourage open communication

Trigger Points and Absence Reviews

  • Establishing clear trigger points for absence, such as a certain number of days or instances of absence within a specified period
  • Conducting formal absence reviews when trigger points are reached to discuss concerns, identify underlying issues, and agree on action plans
  • Applying trigger points and absence reviews consistently and fairly across the organisation

Occupational Health Support

  • Utilizing occupational health services to provide expert advice and support for managing employee health issues
  • Making timely referrals to occupational health for employees with ongoing or complex health concerns
  • Acting on occupational health recommendations to facilitate employees’ safe and sustainable return to work

Employee Support and Well-being

  • Providing access to employee assistance programmes (EAPs), counselling services, and other well-being resources
  • Promoting a culture of open communication and support around health and well-being issues
  • Offering flexible working arrangements, phased returns, or reasonable adjustments to support employees with health concerns

Benefits of Implementing Sickness Absence Management Standards

By implementing robust sickness absence management standards, employers can realise several benefits:

Reduced Absence Levels and Costs

Consistent application of absence management processes, early intervention, and employee support can help reduce overall absence levels and associated costs, such as lost productivity, temporary staffing, and statutory sick pay.

Improved Employee Well-being and Engagement

Demonstrating a commitment to employee health and well-being through effective absence management can foster a positive work environment, increase employee engagement, and enhance overall job satisfaction.

Enhanced Compliance and Risk Management

Following established absence management standards helps ensure compliance with legal obligations, such as the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Equality Act 2010, reducing the risk of legal claims or regulatory action.

Better Workforce Planning and Productivity

Effective absence management enables employers to plan and allocate resources more efficiently, minimising disruptions to business operations and maintaining productivity levels.

Partnering with London City Healthcare for Absence Management Support

London City Healthcare is a leading provider of occupational health services in the UK, offering expert guidance and support for employers in managing sickness absence. By partnering with London City Healthcare, employers can access:

  • Comprehensive absence management programs tailored to their organisation’s unique needs
  • Qualified occupational health professionals who provide medical assessments, advice, and recommendations
  • Absence data analysis and reporting to inform absence management strategies and identify areas for improvement
  • Training and support for managers in conducting return-to-work interviews and managing absence effectively


Implementing robust sickness absence management standards is essential for promoting employee well-being, minimising the impact of absence on business operations, and ensuring compliance with legal obligations. By partnering with occupational health providers like London City Healthcare and fostering a supportive work environment, employers can effectively manage sickness absence and create a healthier, more productive workforce.

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr. Kalia helps to run the Occupational Medicine provision for London City healthcare and is a company doctor for one of the largest multinational companies based in the UK.

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