Spotlight on managing absence

In this very first HR Blast of 2013. In no more than two minutes we will put the spotlight on absence and attempt to update you on some of the key facts, figures and ideas for informed and successful absence management in 2013!

Some facts and figures

  • In 2012 the average level of absence fell from 7.7 days in 2011 to 6.8 days per employee.  How does your business compare with these?
  • Public sector absence has fallen to the lowest level recorded since 2002 – 7.9 days per employee per year.
  • On average, manual workers have one more day absence than non-manual workers.
  • Less than 50% of employers monitor the cost of absence. The public sector and larger organisations are most likely to do so.
  • Most employers surveyed (81%) provide occupational sick pay to all employees. A further 10% provide it to some employees depending on their level in the organisation or the nature of their role. We would be interested to know when your business last reviewed how much it pays and to who. Time for review?
  • Two-fifths of employers’ overall (52% in the public sector) report that stress-related absence has increased in 2012. Has this impacted in your organisation?

(Source: CIPD Annual Survey Report 2012, Absence Management)

Ideas for managing it better

  •  Revisit your return to work forms/procedure – do they still work for you? Do they provide you with the information you need? If not, rewrite them now.
  •  Remind your managers that they must do return to work interviews to ensure forms are filled in and information gathered and reasons for absence tested.
  •  Explain to your staff what is required of them. Tell your staff how much sick pay they have each received every 3 or 6 months.
  •  Celebrate reduced levels of absence and reduced sick pay costs. Let staff know how they are helping you succeed in this area.
  •  Set clear targets for both absence rates and absence costs. Publicise these.
  •  Include work ethic and personal accountability as key attributes of all staff. Publicly praise those who set an example to others.
  •  Be clear about how many days of short term absence will kick off formal absence management with an employee. 3 days per year? 5 days? 7 days?
  •  If not already done so, set KPIs on absence targets for your line managers to ensure they remain focussed on managing staff attendance

But now if you have two more minutes to spare and would like something new for 2013, for those of you not yet using it, here is an introduction to The Bradford Factor…

History: The term was first used in 1980s following research undertaken by Bradford University School of Management. It was developed to highlight how multiple short term absences (in contrast to a single episode of long term absence) have a disproportionate level of disruption on an organisation’s performance.

How does it work? The Bradford Factor is a method of measuring employee attendance.

The Bradford Factor is calculated using the formula BF (employee) = S x S x D where S is the number of incidents of absences recorded in the timesheet or schedule for the employee during the past 52 weeks, and D is the total number of days of absence.

 S x S x D = Bradford points score

 For example – three employees have had 14 days of absence each in total, but look how their overall scores differ:

An employee with 1 absence of 14 days scores: 1 x 1 x 14 = 14

An employee with 7 absences of 2 days each scores: 7 x 7 x 14 = 686

An employee with 14 absences of 1 day each scores: 14 x 14 x 14 = 2744

Formally managing using Bradford Factor Scores

There are lots of ways in which you can do this, but as just one example for you to consider for your business:

In probationary period:

Score of 10+ Initiate counselling

Score of 20+    Extend probationary period

All other employees (this scheme being operated on a rolling 12 month period):

Score of 100+   Trigger investigation

Score of 200+  Trigger disciplinary meeting

And finally… 

Regular absence questions/concerns coming into the Jaluch advice centre at present include…

  • How can we manage stress related absence?
  • What are the dangers around potentially dismissing an employee with high absence where this could be linked to disability discrimination?
  • How should we justify a decision not to pay Company sick pay?
  • Fears around having sensitive discussions with staff about their absence levels!

Need help with any of these or any other aspect of absence management? Please call us on 01425 479888 or get in touch!

PLUS! We have designed and pre-prepared a training course on Absence Management, solve the problem before it starts! We also have a newly updated eBook on Managing Staff Absence, available from Amazon.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.

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