RETAIL | Dealing with poor attendance

Is poor attendance causing problems for your retail business?

If staff are taking a number of unauthorised absences, it can prevent you from delivering excellent customer service. This is particularly problematic in the run up to Christmas. With a busy shift expected, it can be demoralising for your employees if a member of your team calls in sick, again. This means extra strain on those already stretched.

Rather than despair about its negative impact, take the following three steps to effectively reduce frequent short-term absences.

Have clear reporting absence requirements in place

It is important to have a clear sickness absence policy in your Employee Handbook. In this policy, you should outline the reporting requirements. Many employers will specify that the employee should notify their manager of their absence as soon as possible and in any event by no later than X before their scheduled start time. It is also useful to set out that the employee should make every effort to speak to their manager directly and not just leave a message with a colleague or send an email or text.

Establishing clear rules means that you are informed of all employee absences; have time to arrange cover and know when the employee is likely to return to work. It can also help deter malingerers – employees prefer sending a text or email rather than facing an uncomfortable conversation on the phone!

Conduct return to work interviews

‘Return to work’ interviews are a proven way of reducing spurious absences. They should take place after each and every absence so employees know that absences are being monitored and it is a matter that is taken seriously. To discuss return to work interviews in more detail, contacts your Ellis Whittam Employment Law Specialist.

 

In the meeting, you can explore whether the absence was due to illness or some other reason. If it was due to illness, you can see the nature of the illness and whether they are fully recovered or it is part of an ongoing condition. If there are signs that they are suffering from a long-term health issue which could be considered a disability, you need to consider what reasonable adjustments can be taken to assist the employee.

Return to work interviews can also pinpoint ways to help reduce absences.  If the employee is dealing with a serious personal concern, you can explore whether their absences could be reduced if they have flexible working arrangements.

Plus, they can deter people from pulling ‘sickies’ if they know they’ll face some tough questioning upon their return.

Three top tips when carrying out return to work interviews:

  • Carry them out in a private place, not on the shop floor or in any other areas where other staff or customers can interrupt or overhear the discussion;
  • Keep a written record of every return to work meeting. This will help build a picture of their absences and help identify if there are wider trends that need addressing; and
  • Train your managers so they deal with these interviews appropriately. They should listen carefully to their employees and keep an open mind. It may be that they are convinced that the absences are because of one reason, but they may be about something completely different!

Have trigger points

In your sickness absence policy, you should set benchmarks, known as trigger points, for unacceptable levels of short and frequent sickness absence. If they reach these trigger points or you discover there are no legitimate reasons for absences, you should take formal action.

Definitive Guide to Managing Sickness Absence

For a complete overview of how you can manage sickness absence in the same way that the HR experts do download our definitive guide.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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