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Top Tips for Effective Absence Management

As the season of sneezes is in full swing, it’s important to focus on how to keep the common cold and other ailments from having too much impact on your school. 

The latest Sickness Absence figures* show that sick leave costs the UK economy £77 billion annually, which, according to the Office of National Statistics, equates to a total of approximately 137 million days lost per year due to sickness absence.  

This, of course, has a knock-on effect to those within a school: having to reallocate the work of someone who is off sick, cancel or rearrange appointments for them, arrange cover (often at a significant cost) and experience the frustration of another member of your staff at having extra work due to the absence of a colleague. 

There are times when even the most committed and diligent of us does not feel well and should not, or cannot, go into work. Yet, with a well thought out Absence Management Policy and Procedure many of the frustrations of frequent short-term absence and perceived lack of progress in managing long-term absence, can be overcome. Such a policy can also help prevent absences in the first instance. 

There is a myriad of measures you can take that contribute to effective absence management.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) highlights three fundamental tenets key to effective absence management. They are:

  • Clear and robust Absence Management Policy and Procedures.
  • Management Skill and Competence.
  • Purposeful and focussed ‘Return-to-Work Meetings’.

We should not view absence management interventions in isolation, it is a holistic process. A coordinated, multi-dimensional, omni-skilled approach is required. For example, to perform an effective return-to-work meeting, the manager conducting that meeting must have the requisite ‘soft’ skills and accompanying knowledge to conduct the meeting effectively. A robust Absence Management Policy that clearly outlines the process should support this.  

There are other variables that contribute to effective management of absence such as flexible working arrangements, access to occupational health, wellbeing programmes and limiting sick pay, but the three interventions mentioned above are by far the most impactful methods you can deploy to manage absence effectively.

Over the next few months we will explore the effectiveness of these in detail, whilst helping you navigate the potential ‘minefields’ that await should you neglect to take into consideration current Employment Legislation before making important decisions.

Further blogs will consider ways to prevent absence from occurring in the first place and explore ways to tackle both short-term and long-term absence and discuss effective techniques (of which there are many) for managing them.

Mark Vince CIPD
HR Consultant
Schools’ Choice

*(Personnel Today 2017).

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