Guide to absence improvement

£ 20

Our absence improvement guide offers insights and strategies for improving employee attendance and reducing absenteeism. It provides practical advice on addressing frequent or prolonged absences, implementing supportive policies, and fostering a positive work environment. 

Most sickness is genuine and unauthorised absence may be caused by family commitments or stress. However, these situations are difficult to manage because they are often sudden and unexpected. This leaves some managers feeling unsure about what they can do.

Ultimately if this procedure is followed and no improvements are forthcoming, dismissal will be deemed to be a reasonable outcome.

Why this guide is necessary

This Guide to Absence Improvement offers a comprehensive roadmap for organisations to proactively manage and reduce employee absenteeism. This guide comprises strategies and best practices aimed at understanding, addressing, and diminishing the instances of unplanned employee absences. It provides insights into identifying patterns, exploring the root causes of absenteeism, and implementing effective measures to foster better attendance.

This guide typically includes practical steps such as establishing clear absence reporting procedures, conducting return-to-work interviews, and offering support mechanisms for employees facing health or personal challenges affecting their attendance. It outlines methods for tracking and analysing absence data to identify trends and patterns, allowing organisations to tailor interventions and support programmes accordingly. By promoting open communication and providing practical tools, the guide aids in creating a supportive environment for employees to improve attendance.

The Guide to Absence Improvement serves as a strategic resource, equipping managers and HR personnel with the tools to address absenteeism proactively. It aims to foster a culture of understanding and support while simultaneously driving accountability and attendance improvement among employees. Ultimately, this guide enables organisations to implement effective strategies for managing absenteeism, enhancing productivity, and nurturing a more engaged and reliable workforce.

  • Employment Rights Act 1996: Provides the legal framework for handling absence, including procedures for managing and improving attendance.

  • Equality Act 2010: Ensures absence improvement measures are implemented fairly and do not discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics.

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: Requires employers to provide a safe working environment, including addressing absence issues that may impact health and safety.

  • Data Protection Act 2018 (incorporating GDPR): Mandates that handling absence-related data complies with data protection principles.

  • Company Policies and Employment Contracts: Internal policies and contractual agreements may outline specific absence improvement procedures and expectations.

Workflow sequence

Previous step
Absence improvement policy

Our Absence Improvement Policy template is designed to support a healthier work environment by helping you to combat absenteeism, ensure fairness, and boost productivity.

This step
Guide to absence improvement
Next step
Guide to return to work interviews

This guide provides guidance on conducting effective return to work (RTW) interviews after periods of absence, helping managers gather relevant information, address any concerns or barriers, and facilitate a smooth transition back to work.


Reading time icon
Time to read / prep / use
5 mins
Document specs icon
Word count / length
513 words, 2 pages A4
Date last reviewed icon
Date last reviewed
1 June 2024
guide to absence improvement

Guide to absence improvement

Identifying a concern

Managers are responsible for deciding if supportive intervention is needed when a series of absences occur and/or where a review point is reached following a period of absence.

Discussing a concern

It is good practice in all cases of absence, regardless of whether or not any concern has been identified, to ensure that a Return to Work Discussion takes place following a period of absence.

Return to work interview - model form

The extent of this discussion will be influenced by the circumstances of the absence(s), including whether or not a review point has been met. Frequent short-term absence can in some cases be a sign of an underlying medical condition, therefore it is important that supportive steps are taken to discuss any frequent pattern of absence in order to explore the cause, its impact and how an improvement may be achieved (with support if required).

Such absences may also be a sign of another problem or difficulty and discussion gives employee’s the chance to raise of share any concerns or difficulties they may have.

For absences which meet a review point or where the manager has any concerns, a more detailed discussion should take place and be recorded. Where a review point is reached, this discussion is typically the start of the Absence Improvement process.

Key considerations are:

  • Alerting the employee to the fact that their attendance levels are giving cause for concern
  • Exploring the reasons for absence and establishing whether or not there is an underlying medical condition or reason affecting an employee’s attendance, taking advice from Occupational Health if required. Where an underlying medical condition or disability is identified, discussion should take place around the impact this may have on their role
  • If the employee believes they are suffering from work-related stress, it is a good idea to complete a stress risk assessment with them.

Stress risk assessment - model form

  • Considering any possible adjustments to support employees and taking appropriate advice or guidance from HR and/or Occupational Health, particularly in cases where an underlying medical condition is identified
  • Ensuring that the employee understands the Managing Attendance Policy, the review points, the Attendance Improvement Process and any potential next steps in the process should their attendance fail to improve.

In appropriate cases, this will include advising the employee that their attendance will now be monitored for a period of time or that they will be required to attend a formal hearing.

Monitoring a concern

Attendance levels should continue to be observed during any monitoring periods implemented during the Absence Improvement process.

Equally important is the monitoring of the impact of any adjustments put in place to ensure that they are working effectively or to identify if they need to be reviewed or adapted.

Where the desired improvement is achieved, the Absence Improvement process concludes and the employee’s attendance can then be managed as per normal arrangements. Where there is no improvement, or where further review points are triggered, the matter should be escalated through the Absence Improvement process accordingly.

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Why choose our Guide to absence improvement?

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Is easy to edit and execute, with comprehensive implementation guidance.
Is designed by accredited, experienced HR practitioners.
Maintains your compliance with ACAS guidelines, legislation, and industry best practices.
Includes 12 months access to your purchase, with email alerts if updated or expanded.

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