Employee absenteeism: How to make sure it doesn’t affect your business

There are many reasons why an employee may be absent from work. If an employee is on authorised leave such as annual leave or parental leave, you will have known about this absence in advance and have had time to prepare. It is when leave is unauthorised that it can become difficult to manage. Most unauthorised leave will be for genuine reasons such as in the event of illness or bereavement. However, with some employees you may begin to notice a pattern of unplanned leave that you worry may not be legitimate.

In 2020, the average amount of unplanned leave taken by employees in the UK was 3.4 days. According to gov.uk, if ill, an employee will only need to show their employer proof of their illness, in the form of a ‘sick note,’ when they have been unwell for more than 7 days in a row, including non-working days. If an employee has been sick for less than seven days, although legally they do not need to provide their employer with a sick note, the employer can still ask for details of why they were absent.

Examples of signs that an employee's absence may not be genuine are:
  • The employee always misses the same day, especially if it’s Mondays or Fridays
  • The employee always gives a different reason to excuse their absence
  • The employee’s absence coincides with events that might be taking place outside work or work events which the employee may be trying to avoid.
These patterns can sometimes be hard to spot and could go on for months before they come to your attention. There may be an underlying issue that is causing the employee to miss a lot of days and it’s a good idea to talk to the employee to find out what support they might need at work before you take any other action.

What is the easiest way to spot a pattern of unauthorised absence?

Patterns of unauthorised absence can be hard to spot, especially if you manage a large team. So, what can you do to notice these absences earlier?

BrightPay is a payroll software that can help you monitor and track employees’ leave, both authorised and unauthorised. When processing payroll, an employee’s leave will be added to the employee’s calendar. Each type of leave is colour coded, so it is easy to see, at a glance, when an employee has been showing a pattern of unauthorised leave.


1. Share an attendance policy with employees

Sharing an Attendance Policy document with employees which clearly defines your expectations as an employer, and the procedure employees must follow when they are going to be absent from work means there will be no room for excuses from employees who may try to say they were not aware of the proper procedures.

BrightPay Connect, an add-on to BrightPay’s payroll software includes an employee appthat has a document sharing feature which allows employers to share documents such as an Attendance an Policy with multiple employees, quickly and easily. Once the employer has uploaded the document through their own employer dashboard, the employee will receive a push notification on their phone that the document has become available. The document can be read anytime, anywhere by the employee and it will always be available for them to review on their employee app. If the employer wishes to update the document, the employee will once again be notified that the updated document is available to read. Through the employer dashboard, the employer also has the ability to monitor which employees have opened the document and which employees have not.

Not sure of what to include in an Attendance Policy? Our sister product Bright Contracts is a software package that has everything you need to create and manage a professional staff handbook which can be tailored to your needs, including an Attendance Policy.

2. Let your employees hold themselves accountable

The BrightPay Connect employee app can also be used by employees to request annual leave. To do so, the employee must enter their leave request into their employee calendar. On the calendar, they will also be able to see, colour coded, the days which they have taken as unauthorised leave. Up until now, the employee themselves may not have realised just how many days they had been missing. Sometimes simply seeing the pattern of absence for themselves can be enough for the employee to decide they would like to make a change and aim to not miss any more days that year. When employees are made aware of the amount of time they have missed, they are more likely to take responsibility for themselves and change their habits.

However you decide to deal with employee absence, it is important you address a pattern of absence as early as possible. Sometimes giving the employee a chance to explain the reason for their absences can be enough to solve the issue. By having a clear attendance policy in place, by tracking absences and addressing them as soon as possible you will have a better chance of any issues being resolved before they turn into a bigger problem.

To learn more about BrightPay Connect’s features, why not book a free Connect demo today. Or, if you are new to BrightPay, why not download our free 60-day trial and discover BrightPay’s features for yourself.

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Karen Bennett
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