Absenteeism is a term typically used when referring to employees unplanned, unscheduled or pattern of absence from work. Whilst there are various leave types available to employees, unplanned and unscheduled leave can lead to loss of productivity, loss of business profit and decreased team morale.

So how can businesses manage absenteeism, and nip it in the bud before it gets out of control?

Review absences: check your payroll data and see if there are any reoccurring employees who take time off on a regular basis. When reviewing the data ask yourself:

  • Is there a pattern of days taken?
  • Does leave regularly fall on either side of a weekend?
  • Are there certain days that they take off on a reoccurring basis?
  • How much time off has been taken as unpaid leave?
  • How much leave is taken that is unaccounted for?

Leave Policy: have a documented leave policy which details the requirements of taking leave. The policy should include details of what documentation is required to be presented to the employer i.e. medical certificate, and the processes employees need to follow when taking or returning from leave.

Communication: when your employee returns from unplanned leave, touch in with them. If the leave policy requests a medical certificate, speak with your employee about their medical certificate and health, however, be aware the employee is under no obligation to divulge any medical issues they do not wish to.

If there is a pattern of behaviour, raise it with the employee and see if there is anything the business needs to be aware of which causes the regular days off.



Based on this, the business can ascertain the best course of action moving forward, for example:

  • Implement a return to work plan,
  • Monitor the employee’s ability to complete their role,
  • Review and/or modify employee’s working hours,
  • Formal discussion outlining issues and potential outcomes,
  • Ongoing monitoring of absences.

Keep track: file note issues addressed with the employee around absenteeism and action items that were discussed. If you find yourself having multiple conversations with the same employee, these file notes will assist the business if termination is considered.

Absenteeism can be driven by various factors such as: stress, fatigue, family commitments, illness or injury, employee disengagement, or simply time theft. This is why communication with your employee is important to ascertain what the underlying cause of their absenteeism is, and to work with the employee towards improving their unplanned time off.  It’s equally as important that employees see that absenteeism is actively managed.

Dealing with leave can be tricky. If you need guidance or support in monitoring and dealing with employee Absenteeism issues, Cornerstone HR can help you. Contact our specialist team for a non-obligation chat today.