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Employment law, Absence and Performance Management

18th February 2011
By jennyhicks in Employment Law
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On average, an individual’s sickness absence costs an employer £659 a year and is equivalent to 8.4 working days lost.

How absence costs a business:
Overtime to cover
Replacement temporary staff
Reduced / delayed production
Lower quality or levels of service
Customer dissatisfaction
Management time dealing with issues
Increased pressure on other employees
Low morale and general dissatisfaction
Deciding on action

Investigate the reasons for absence or lateness before deciding on any action. Is there a pattern or related problems – e.g. at home, at work place, with their health etc? Remember unauthorised absence is misconduct.

Managing short-term absence
Ensure the employee follows your company absence reporting procedures. Conduct 'Return to work' interviews for every absence, establish the reasons for the absence and any underlying causes. Agree an action plan, set a date for review and outline implications of failure to improve.

The importance of information
Keep accurate records of lateness and absence - it is about what you can prove, not what you think you know.

Legal requirements
It is potentially fair to dismiss someone for sickness absence. Case law distinguishes different approaches for short term ‘persistent intermittent’ sickness absence and long term sickness absence. However, beware of disability discrimination - an accusation of this is serious as potential damages at tribunal for discrimination are unlimited. Ensure that that your processes being applied equally, any disability is given due consideration and any religious requirements considered.

Seek expert advice from a specialized employment law consultant before dismissing an employee for sickness absence.

Why manage performance?
Because it makes financial sense! It can improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction, safety, and your business company reputation.

What if I don't ?
It can lead to poor morale, demotivated employees, reduced productivity, increased absence and staff turnover, and possibly expensive legal consequences.

Examples of poor performance

Not adhering to Company standards, policies or procedures, inaccuracy and lack of attention to detail, poor attitude towards management and colleagues, missing deadlines, lack of commitment, motivation and initiative.

Possible Causes
Not being shown correct procedures, lack of proper training, not knowing what’s expected, working under unreasonable pressure, following someone else’s bad example, personal problems.
Conducting a Performance Review
Prepare for the meeting. Specifically state the areas where the performance does not meet the required standard. Establish the reasons – discuss, listen, ask for ideas to solve the problem. Identify the next steps, agree an action plan and a review date. Then monitor and support the employee's progress.

Performance Management Skills
Performance management is easy to do badly – and done badly it can cause more damage to your business than if it is not done at all. Conversely, done well it can help transform a poorly performing workforce. If you’re at all unsure, ensure you do it well by obtaining professional advice and training.

The above is intended to provide information of general interest about employment law but does not give legal advice. Seek advice from qualified employment law specialists
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