Line managers must learn how to deal with absence

Your report ‘HR tackling sickness absence’ (Personnel Today, 16 May) says the intervention of HR managers is more effective at reducing absenteeism, and this is seen as a reason to give HR managers primary responsibility for managing absence.

However, I believe it is wrong to suggest that absence management should be the sole preserve of HR managers.

I am inclined to interpret the results as an inability of line managers to deal with absence as effectively, hence the higher rate of absence when line managers are handling cases.

They may not be aware of absence management procedures, or may not have the confidence or competence to put them into practice.

But absence rates can often be reduced dramatically through line manager training on organisational absence policies and absence management methods.

Reducing absence is a collective effort between management and HR practitioners.

HR managers should take responsibility for developing line manager capability, as well as sharing a commitment to better absence management responsibilities with line managers.

Therefore, HR managers should address line management deficiencies, rather than take on line management responsibilities.

Shoz Rahman, HR analyst

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