Steps to Managing Illness-Related Absences

Posted on

March 14th, 2017


shutterstock_174875483Absence management encompasses a number of attendance issues. Any effective attendance policy will provide details on a variety of absences including sick leave, personal leave, vacation leave, disability leave, and more. However, these guidelines often exist for employees. How to implement an attendance policy and facilitate the return-to-work process can be confusing for employers. Below are some steps managers can take to navigate the process for illness-related absences.

When an Employee Calls Out of Work

Managers should always find out the details behind the absence as well as a general period for when the employee will be fit to return to work. They should also find out if the absence is related to an incident at work to prepare for a potential worker’s compensation claim. If the illness is cyclical, the employer may need to discuss medical treatment needs to ensure the workplace is not contributing to the recurring problem. Employers should also take this time to remind the employee about the attendance policy and if they need to provide additional information such as a doctor’s note.

When the Employee is Absent

Employers should encourage employees to provide updates on their condition. The employer should not be overbearing about these updates, but proper timelines are necessary for adequate absence management. If the employer does not know the nature of the illness (i.e. short-term vs long-term), they cannot set up an appropriate return-to-work plan. Employers should also keep accurate records of all correspondence with employees regarding their illness.

Return-to-Work Process

The company attendance policy should outline the return-to-work process so employees know what to expect. Some companies only opt to require return-to-work interviews for extended absences or habitual short-term absences. Employers should consider any accommodations the employee may need to facilitate a successful return-to-work. This includes any recommendations given by the employee’s physician as well.
Other elements to consider for the return-to-work process are:

  • A phased return
  • A flexible schedule
  • Modifying duties
  • Upgrading the employee’s workstation to reduce a chance of relapse (e.g. an ergonomic chair after a back injury)
  • Moving the employee’s workstation to an easier to access area

Employers can improve their absence management procedures by keeping track of an employee’s recovery progress, providing proper support, and addressing any issues as they arise. To learn more about effective absence management strategies, contact the experts at Actec.