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HR Update: Sickness Absence - How much will the summer sickie cost you?

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16 June 2015

2015 will see the ever popular annual Glastonbury and V Festival weekends taking place amongst many others. June and July are busy months with The Ashes, Tour de France, the Golf Open and Wimbledon. The Rugby World Cup will be also be taking place in September.

There are 130 million days lost to sickness absence every year in Great Britain. The World Cup 2014 cost Britain £4bn in lost productivity as thousands of workers revealed that they ‘threw a sickie' – in a bid to watch their home team. 

Planning ahead

All companies should ensure their holiday policy is up to date and is used effectively for managers granting holidays. Some staff may be tempted to pull a sickie in order to enjoy a day in the sun or watch a sporting event.

Why not hold meetings before the start of such events/beginning of summer and remind employees of their responsibilities and the sickness absence policy is still in place? Make sure any unauthorised absence is investigated and return to work meetings are adhered to. Now is the time to ensure you have a robust absence and unauthorised absence policy in place.

Make sure your rules do not unfairly discriminate against one group of workers. It may be possible for young or new employees to argue that allowing more senior staff, or those with a greater length of service, first choice on holiday is unfair.

Flexible alternatives

Some employers may want to consider making allowance for staff, to engage in and watch the events (within reason). You could consider allowing flexible start and finish times, unpaid leave, shift swaps, or even install a TV in staff rooms, or allow staff to work from home where technology permits.

A good sporting result or a hot summer’s day (which, if we’re honest, are rare for us!) bring with them an influx of sickies.

Employers need to take the appropriate steps to pinpoint the fakes without overstepping the legal boundaries. There are no issues with reminding your employees of the absence reporting procedures shortly before major events and reiterating that any unauthorised absences will be the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

If you would like us to take a look at your policies or discuss any of the above please contact us on 01242 682132 or laura.fitzsimmons@hazlewoods.co.uk