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    Wooden blocks that spell out the word Absence

    Managing Absence in the Workplace

    Published on August 23rd, 2021 | by Lucy Hay

    It can be difficult for employers, to manage absence effectively and of course; each employee absence has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. With the August bank holiday approaching, do you know how to manage absence as an employer? During this blog, we will discuss ways to reduce absenteeism and to effectively manage workplace absence.

    A common pattern that we have seen with absence is that they always tend to be around the weekend. For example, on a bank holiday Monday, absences tend to be higher on the Tuesday when they are meant to return to work. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why this is, but it can cause problems for employers when they don’t have sufficient cover in place.

    If your workplace has an early start time, it can be beneficial to offer flexible working. Flexible working allows employees to start later and finish later but they still need to be in work during core hours which are set by the employer. The traditional 9-5 isn’t always the most productive for all employees. Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in flexible working which has helped employees achieve a work-life balance. This can also encourage employees to come into work after a bank holiday as they will be able to start later than normal without being penalized.

    Holidays are a great incentive for employees and can encourage their motivation. If you offer the statutory holidays (20 days plus 8 bank holidays), an increase in holiday entitlement may be another way to reduce absences. Yes, it is a benefit and will cost, but it is a benefit that can prevent time and money when you need to cover those unplanned absences at short notice. Providing your employees with great benefits will increase morale and motivate them, which will then increase productivity and attendance.

    If you are not in a position to increase your employees holiday allowance, duvet days are a good option to offer your employees. A duvet day is a day’s annual leave, but they do not have to book it with any notice. In essence, if an employee wakes up one day and is really not feeling it, they can call in and book a ‘duvet day’. A duvet day isn’t additional annual leave and it comes out of their holiday allowance, but it is a benefit as they don’t need to prebook it weeks in advance. It’s a practical idea to only allow a duvet day per quarter to maintain business continuity. Also ensure that the policy is clearly stated in your company handbook. You may also want to not allow duvet days after work parties as everyone would be calling in including the Managing Director! Duvet days a great non-financial reward for staff.

    As much as there are many ways to try and reduce absenteeism, you are inevitably still going to get some. It would be amazing if you could stop absences altogether, but we need to be realistic. It is really important to have clear policies in place so that your employees know exactly what they need to do should they need to call in absent, there should be no confusion or excuse from your employees for not following the policy. We encourage making it part of your absence policy to make employees phone in when they need to call in absent. This is to ensure that you can have a two-way conversation with them and make sure they are ok and to also make sure it is the employee that is calling in absent (it could be anyone texting on their phone!)

    By having a policy in place, you can also monitor employee absences effectively. It is important to keep a record of when an employee goes off absent. Regular short-term absences may trigger a disciplinary for conduct, or may trigger the capability procedure. Long-term absences also require welfare meetings and potentially trigger the capability procedure. If you don’t keep a record of absences, employees may ‘try their luck’ as you won’t have any record of when they were last absent.

    If you need any support with absence management, please get in touch! You can call our friendly HR team on 01527 571617 or email us at

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