Daily phone-in absence scheme could help to reduce absenteeism

Business hours lost through employee GP appointments may need a more deep-seated approach to managing employee sickness than human resources (HR) pressure for increased NHS services (‘HR chiefs call for radical shake-up of GP system’,Personnel Today, 25 September).

Although arguably preferable, initiatives such as increased GP hours would demand a substantial cash and personnel injection to mediate against the £13.4bn that absenteeism costs the UK a year (CBI’s 2006 absenteeism survey), and it would take years to make a constructive dent in the country’s employee-absence bottom line.

The key, therefore, may lie in organisations investing in same-day sickness processes – such as phone-in professional medical advice for employees when they call in sick for work.

Through the provision of medical advice, HR departments will be able to marry the identification and tracking of the issue with a structure to reduce its impact on the business. This in turn would supplement and feed into existing HR data, giving HR departments greater control in the battle against absenteeism.

Lawrence Knowles, managing director, Midland HR

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