Sick leave survey reveals management trends

Most employers that define long-term absence as lasting at least four weeks, will share responsibility for managing such absence between HR and the line manager, and will use case management on a selective basis, a survey by IRS and Xpert HR has found.

The poll of 173 employers on their management of long-term sickness absence found that such absence accounted for more than a third – 39% – of all time lost to absence last year.

Two-thirds of the employers polled defined long-term absence as four weeks, rising to more than eight in 10 in the public sector, although a tenth had no formal definition at all. This was most common among small to medium-sized enterprises.

The consensus on how to successfully manage long-term absence was not to let situations drift so that weeks go by with little or no contact between the employer and absent employee.

This was, the review concluded, much less likely to happen where an organisation had developed a formal definition of long-term absence and linked it to an absence trigger.

Full report next month

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