Doctors want HR to deal with sickness absence

HR professionals have been urged to tackle the UK’s growing ‘sickie’ culture by naming and shaming employees.

Managers suspect that 12% of absences last year involved staff “pulling a sickie”, according to the report by the CBI and AXA – a loss of 21 million days, costing the UK £1.6bn.

“HR departments should become more proactive, and monitor behavioural trends to build up a profile,” said Guy Guinan, employ­ment partner at law firm Halliwells.

“Naming and shaming individuals by displaying attendance records in a staff canteen or rest area can work.”

Guinan warned that employers should take care not to infringe the Disability Discrimination Act. He added that praising and rewarding employees with the best attendance rates could also be effective.

“Policies requiring employees to produce evidence of illness, not just simple self-certification, should be considered,” he said. “Ad hoc follow-ups to a retained doctor and a back-to-work interview would also act as deterrents.”

Gareth English, chartered occupational psychologist and senior consultant with business psychology firm OPP, said high levels of absenteeism were a key indicator of unhappy employees and a sign that the culture of an organisation was failing its employees.

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