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.


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.


8 Steps to effective leadership

What makes a good manager? – 8 Steps to Effective Leadership


As you are aware, Leadership & Management plays a huge role in the delivery of the business goals however, not everyone understands some of the basics of good leadership.

Here, I share with you 8 steps to effective leadership.

1. Purpose

A good purpose will explain the direction the business is going in, motivate employees to take the right action to achieve it, and coordinate the actions of all employees to achieve the same goal. Read more in ‘My Purpose and Values: Create a Great Place To Work‘.

2. Belief

Leaders have a strong vision of where they want their business to go. Without that vision, a business is working in the dark. But a leader can’t do much alone. Little can be achieved without the support, buy-in and belief of the employees.

3. Effective communications

Do you talk to people and explain what you really want for your business and from them? If you don’t tell them, how are they to know? Do you put your message across so that everyone understands it? A message is successful only when both the sender and the receiver perceive it in the same way.

Also Read: This starts with leadership. 

4. Effective Listening

To be an effective listener, you need to respond with both verbal and nonverbal cues which let the other person know that you are listening and understanding. Effective listening can mean fewer errors and less wasted time.

5. Coaching

Instead of directing and controlling your staff, use coaching to encourage them to accomplish results on their own initiative.

6. Responsibility & Delegation

Give employee’s greater responsibility, opportunities to make their own decisions, and the chance to develop their capabilities. Make the most effective use of your time by delegating tasks you don’t need to do yourself. Want to know more? Read How Important is Workplace Culture for your Business?

7. Recognition & Motivation

Everyone likes to be recognised for doing a good job. That doesn’t always have to be a financial reward. Saying ‘thank you’ is often enough. Understand what motivates your staff – each individual is different. Motivated staff will have increased energy and will strive to achieve the nurseries goals. Find out more in our 4 Simple Ideas How To Engage and Motivate Your Staff.

8. Managing Conflict

Don’t avoid conflict – tackle it straight away. It won’t just go away if you avoid it, and matters will only get worse. Avoiding conflict can make you look weak as a leader.

To ensure you have a successful management team you must provide them with the right training. Too often I see staff promoted to management positions only to be demoted or dismissed a few months later as they did a poor job. More often than not it’s because they have not received the correct training. So make sure you provide training for your managers on the basics of managing people otherwise you are setting them up to fail.

Interested in Leadership Coaching?

Call us now 01980 622167.


Do I Have To Pay An Employee Who Books Doctors Appointments During Working Time?


Today I’m going to be answering another one of your questions. And the question we’ve got today is

Do I have to pay an employee who books a doctor’s appointment during working time?”

The answer to that is “No you don’t have to.” There’s no legal requirement to pay employees when they are going to see a doctor.

You could ask employees to try to make doctor’s appointments at the beginning of the working day or at the end of the working day – so that it doesn’t disrupt the working day too much, but there is no requirement for you to pay them.

41 Things Every Employers Needs To Know

  • It’s not very easy trying to get appointments at the end of the day or the beginning of the day because doctors as we know are very very busy. But, you can make employees aware that is what you would like them to do. You can even include that in your handbook so that they will understand that.
  • You can also explain that to people during their induction – that, if they are going to see a doctor or a dentist, there is no payment for that time and they need to try and make them either outside of working hours or at the beginning or the end of the day, or potentially in their lunchtime as well – that can work too.

So the quick answer is: No. If someone is booking doctor’s appointment during working time, you don’t have pay them.

Need help with HR support or HR Consultancy? Or, do you have more questions?  Contact us!  or email or phone 01980 622167