Absence - Jacqui Mann

How To Manage Employee Absence


Employee Absence

Managing absence is one of the biggest staff issues that employers are faced with.  It can cause so much disruption to the business when a member of staff phones in sick. It’s therefore important to ensure it’s well managed and all employees are treated fairly.

Many cases of absence are genuine and as an employer you need to manage this process and see how you can support employees when they are ill and help them return to work.

There are some employees whose absence is not genuine, malingerers who are regularly off work sick. This can really affect the moral of those who are left to cover their workload. If managers fail to deal with absence issues staff left to cover the workload can see this as a weakness in the manager. It can make them demotivated and in some cases the employees with good attendance can leave.

Even if you don’t have any absence issue at the moment you need to ensure you have a process in place for when the time comes. It’s too late once you have a problem.

How much is absence costing your business?

It’s not just the direct costs, sick pay, to consider when an employee is absent.  What about the indirect costs? The impact on your staff and customers, cost of temporary cover, providing additional training or lost business to name just a few.

This is why the importance of having your HR Foundations in place is crucial.

So what are HR Foundations? 

They are made up of your:

  • Employment contract
  • HR policies
  • Employee handbook

These documents make up the people systems that give you a solid base on which to build your business. They provide the rules and guidelines of how things are done in your company. They form part of your culture.

One of the policies you need is an absence policy which sets out what the business expects from employees when they are sick.

The policy needs to explain the absence reporting procedure, which is what an employee must do if they are sick and not able to attend work, who they must contact, how they should make contact and by what time.

How they make contact may sound simple, but these days there are so many ways to communicate. Do they phone their manager; or a colleague, is a text acceptable, can they send a Facebook or Whatsapp message?  Can you see why these things need to be included in your policy?

I recommend including the reporting absence procedure in your employment contract and discussing this with all new employees on their first day as part of their induction.

Return to work interview

The first step to manage absence is by conducting a return to work interview with the employee concerned on their first day back at work. I recommend this even if the employee has only been off work for one day.

Managers need to be investigative and counselling in their approach during the return to work interview.  This will help to discover if there are any underlying health or work problems that an employee might have.

The purpose of the interview is to:

  • Enable the employee to explain the reason for their absence.
  • Ensure the employee is well enough to be back at work and see whether they need any further support. For example, in the case of a long term sick absence, or recovery from a serious or traumatic illness, some employees may benefit from coming back on different hours to help them readjust back into work.
  • Assess whether the reason given is genuine.
  • Complete a return to work interview form.
  • Emphasise the importance of good attendance and explain why absence is continually monitored.
  • Raise any concerns regarding an employee’s attendance record and decide if further action should be taken.


Many cases are genuine, but not all. By regularly monitoring all absence you will start to see a decline in sick days which will save the business money, improve the work environment and the company culture. It will also help to identify employees who are genuinely ill who may need additional support or adjustments made to their work.

Many managers say they don’t have time to carry out these interviews. This maybe the case but if you consistently follow this process it will have one of two results. The malingerers will – one- stop taking time off or two – they leave.  Either result is a good result.

You see it maybe the manager does not have time to do these interviews now but once they are carried out consistently the absence levels will decrease. It’s a swings and roundabouts situation.  If they don’t do the interviews absence problems will continue. The reason they don’t have time to do the interview is because staff are off sick!


Do you have the right HR Foundations in place? Is your absence policy up to date? Do you have an absence policy? If you are serious about having a successful business and you want to grow then you need to get these right.


Think about this….you are going to build your dream house a place where the children can grow up, where you can create memories with your friends and family to last you a lifetime. Would you build it without any foundations?  No you wouldn’t. Not unless you’re completely mad, because you know what will happen. It will all come crashing around you. That’s what happens to a business when they are trying to grow but they don’t have their HR foundations laid, it tumbles.

Need help? Contact me at or call 01980 622167 or book a call here.

If you have your HR Foundations in place are they robust or legal?  Contact us for a free HR Healthcheck.


Jacqui Mann

Why your business needs HR Processes, systems, and rules?


Why Your Business Needs HR Processes, Systems, and Rules

Many companies skirt over these essential processes and suffer as a result. You see, things such as your employment contracts, employee handbook, sickness and absence procedures, rules for taking holiday, grievance procedures etc. create the rules of the workplace. If you’re a creative, entrepreneurial business owner, then it won’t surprise me if you find these foundations a little restrictive – even frustrating.

Fit for Purpose

In any business, HR processes and procedures must be up-to-date, fit for purpose and set up to give you the business owner the flexibility to do what’s best for the company. The clue here is in the fit for purpose. Processes and rules create unified standards that ensure all employees are treated fairly more importantly everyone understands what they need to do to ensure consistency.

Many business owners wrongly believe their employees know what to do and what’s expected of them. A lack of processes, systems or procedures leads to inconsistency – in behaviour, performance, discipline, and results. When staff is seen to ‘get away with it’, resentment builds, which slowly kills morale and encourages poor performance.

I’ve worked with so many owners who complain about employees who don’t do things the way they want them done, maybe you can start to see why now.

When I go into the business to help cure their people disease I discover nothing is written down, it’s all in the owners head. I tell the owner that employees are not telepathic. How do they expect them to know what to do, they can’t read your mind.

If you mention HR to most owners they think of policies, procedures, employment law and lots of red tape. Ok, I admit there is some of that but there is so much more to HR than the majority of people realise.

Strategic Growth

HR is about developing people and working with the business from a strategic perspective to support growth. Business owners will need more HR expertise to support workplace culture in the future. Many business owners believe that by having policies in place it will stop them doing the things in their business that they want to do. That’s not true. Policies and procedures need to be designed around the company and the ‘rules’ should be in line with the company culture and values.

Download our guide ‘ Are Your Employment Contracts Legal?’


I meet many business owners who don’t have employment contracts in place for their staff and they have been in business for over ten years. This is madness. Why? Because you are not protecting your business, your employment contract can contain clauses that will give your business protection. Not only that, it makes it very clear from the beginning to both parties as to what the expectations are. The number of times I have had to resolve issues for owners when the relationship has gone wrong. It can become very costly. So much of it could have been prevented if the foundations had been right at the beginning.

I don’t want to get into too much legal stuff so let’s look at it this way. When everything is going well at the beginning of the employment relationship it’s great, but when the relationship turns sour that’s when you wish you’d paid more attention to the really boring stuff, like the employment contract.

I hear many business owners say they don’t like having rules, people can make their own decisions. Everyone knows what’s expected of them around here. It’s that telepathy thing again. I have news for you; they don’t know what’s expected. It may surprise you but the majority of people like to have rules. They like to know what they can and can’t do. It’s also good for your culture as any new employees understand very quickly ‘how things are done around here’.

Expectations and Consequences

A workplace with rules has defined boundaries, expectations, and consequences. Underpinned by the core values the HR processes and systems, help support the business and make it a great place to work. That’s why you need to get these foundations in place before you can begin to implement the P.E.O.P.L.E.™ System itself.

Does your employment contract protect your business? Find out now. Download our guide ‘ Are Your Employment Contracts Legal?’


Constructive dismissal - Jacqui Mann

What Is Constructive Dismissal?


Recently we have had an employer contact us for HR support to find out if an employee can make a claim for constructive dismissal.

So what is constructive dismissal?

Different from ‘wrongful dismissal’, ‘constructive dismissal’ is where an employee terminates their employment in response to their employer’s treatment of them. Although there has been no actual dismissal, the treatment is sufficiently bad that the employee is entitled to regard themselves as having been dismissed.

What does the employee have to prove?

To prove a constructive unfair dismissal, an employee must show that:

  • the employer has breached the employment contract and
  • this is a significant or fundamental breach of contract and
  • they terminated their employment in response to that breach and did not delay resigning

An example of constructive dismissal

An example of a case where the employment tribunal found that an employee’s resignation was not in response to the employer’s breach of contract is Thomas v The Arts Council of Wales (unreported, ET/1604301/08 17 June 2009, ET).

The employee requested to work part-time after her maternity leave. The employer refused, saying they needed full time hours. The problem the employer had was that they didn’t deal with the flexible working request correctly. The employee claimed the way they dealt with it was a fundamental breach of contract, breaking the implied term of trust and confidence. The tribunal was not satisfied that this breach was the reason for her resignation. The employee failed to show that she had been constructively unfairly dismissed. (However, the employee won her claim of unlawful indirect sex discrimination).

Also Read: How to Manage Employees’ Probationary Period

How easy is it to show constructive dismissal?

A constructive dismissal is far more difficult to prove than an employee often thinks. First they must prove a fundamental (rather than minor) breach of contract by the employer.

The employee must also show that their decision to terminate their employment was in response to the breach. An employment tribunal will need to satisfy itself that the employee did not delay too long in resigning. A tribunal will usually expect an employee to have tried to resolve the complaint through the grievance procedure before resigning.Employment Contract

How to avoid constructive dismissal claims

Constructive dismissal claims are usually based on a grievance that the employee has. It’s therefore important to invite the employee to a grievance meeting, giving them the right to be accompanied.  Listen to what they have to say and then respond to the grievance in writing.

Getting to the bottom of the grievance is the key to reassuring the employee or, if they are determined to leave, weakening any potential tribunal claim they may bring.

So the moral of this story is always follow your procedures and whatever you do don’t ignore a grievance!


Jacqui Mann. Employee investigation

What To Do When Carrying Out An Employee Investigation


The first thing to do when performing an Employee Investigation

When an incident occurs in your business, sometimes it’s difficult to know if any disciplinary action is required.

The first thing you need to do is carry out an investigation to establish the facts of what happened.

Any investigation should be carried out without unreasonable delay. Once you have completed the investigation you will then know if any further disciplinary action is required.

First of all, you need to establish all the facts surrounding the incident, including any mitigating circumstances.

The course of the investigation will vary, depending on the particulars of each case. However you do need to consider the following:

  • Decide who will conduct the investigation. Whenever possible, a different manager should conduct the investigation from the manager who would conduct any disciplinary meeting. A tribunal would not look favorably on the case if the same person carried out the investigation and then conducted the disciplinary hearing.
  • Review whether the employee should be suspended while the matter is being investigated. Suspension will normally only be appropriate in cases of negligence or gross misconduct. If you do suspend an employee you should still pay them. Remember suspension does not mean they are guilty. Suspension should be for as short a time as possible.

  • Interview witnesses. This should be done as soon as possible to ensure the incident is recalled accurately. Written signed statements should be obtained from each witness.
  • Obtain any other evidence that may be available. That could be CCTV, documents, timesheets etc. Anything that is going to give you more information about the incident.
  • In most cases you would holding an investigatory meeting with the employee to establish their version of events before proceeding to any disciplinary hearing. In some cases for example possible fraud in may not be necessary to do this. You could collect all your evidence and provide it to the employee when you invite them to a disciplinary meeting.
  • There is no statutory right for an employee to be accompanied at a formal investigatory meeting.
  • When investigating take care to deal with the employee in a fair and reasonable manner. The nature and extent of the investigations will depend on the seriousness of the matter and the more serious it is then the more thorough the investigation should be.
  • It is important to keep an open mind and look for evidence which supports the employee’s case as well as evidence against.

Employment Contract

  • When holding a meeting give the employee advance warning and time to prepare. Any investigatory meeting should be confined to establishing the facts of the case. You are not interested in gossip or hearsay, just facts.
  • It is important that disciplinary action is not considered at an investigatory meeting. If it becomes apparent that formal disciplinary action may be needed then this should be dealt with at a formal meeting at which the employee will have the statutory right to be accompanied.

Remember as the employer you could be held liable if a poor investigation leads to an unfair dismissal which can prove very costly in an Employment Tribunal.

Do you need legal employment advice? Talk to us about HR Support, book a call. We can help you.


Employee engagement ideas – 4 Simple ways To Motivate Your Staff


Why is employee engagement important?

  • Engaging with your employees is one of the secrets to running a successful business.
  • Your staff are your best asset, you have to make sure you take care of them.

Here are four simple ideas on how to engage and motivate your staff in your business.

1. Make fun a priority

Don’t misunderstand me here. You need balance. You need to make sure fun doesn’t become distracting and detrimental to your business. That said don’t underestimate the impact of allowing your team to have a laugh along the way.

You see fun is a great way to

  1. let off a bit of steam,
  2. reduce stress, and even…
  3. bond team members together.

2. Have a purpose, which your staff buy into

Take the time to create a purpose statement that truly reflects who you are, what you want to achieve, and who you want to impact. Then write this in words, which are easy to understand (by you, your staff, and your customers).

How To Engage and Motivate Your Staff

Even better, involve your team in the creation of your purpose statement. You can set the expectations and guidelines, but involving your key people in this decision can be hugely engaging. A shared purpose can bond your team together and increase overall buy-in too.

Also Check: How To Create A Great Place To Work

3. Reward strong performance creatively

Without question, money can be a massive motivator. In turn, a financial bonus or a pay rise can be a powerful way to recognise and reward brilliant performance.

But it’s not the only option…

It’s important to understand that not everyone is motivated by money. In fact, you could find that more creative rewards have a far greater impact on the individual in question and overall team morale.

Employment Contract

4. Get the team together

A key part of building a brilliant team is to foster good working relationships between the different members of staff.

How individual team members interact has a big bearing on atmosphere, morale, and performance. Let’s face it. The last thing you want is people dreading going to work – that’s going to undermine your success significantly.

It’s for this reason that it pays to explore opportunities to get the team together in a relaxed, informal way. Do this and you can encourage friendships and collaboration – both of which help increase engagement.

The most effective bosses are proactive in their attempts to boost engagement – because they recognise the impact motivated, valued staff have on their business success.

So, my question is, what are YOU going to do? Find out more with our 8 Steps to Effective Leadership.

Could you benefit from a culture workshop?  Contact Jacqui to discuss what we can do for you.