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Lockdown Law | Your essential legal questions answered

February 19, 2021

Lockdown Law | Your essential legal questions answered 1

Before COVID we had issues with absence management, with some staff taking frequent time off work for often dubious reasons. I’m concerned history will repeat itself when things return to normal, what should I do?  

“As an employer, a first priority is to ensure absence management policies are up to date and that you or any of your management team are aware of how to deal with situations like this. It should also be on the ‘to do list’ to monitor absence data closely to enable you to properly record any trends in absences. If you have enough evidence to suggest that there is a suspicious pattern to an employee’s absences then employers are well placed to organise a review meeting with the employee in question.

“There is an obligation as an employer that you take reasonable action to review and monitor trends in absence. For example, if there is an employee that has taken frequent short term leave, or suspicious leave trends, the first thought shouldn’t be that they are being disingenuous. Employers should hold return to work meetings to understand if there is a serious underlying issue. Once in receipt of this information, action plans can be implemented that can make the employee more comfortable and productive.

“The obligation doesn’t just lie with the employer here though, and employees should review their company’s absence management policy. It is important that all employees understand fully, what the correct reporting system is, what the consequences of continued absenteeism could be and ultimately how they would inform their employer if they have more serious health or personal problems that needed to be considered.”

Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons