I would greatly appreciate some feedback of your experiences and policy implementation

We have recently introduced a new sickness absence policy which works on trigger points, the first being 15 days or 5 separate occasions. At this stage a review would be held and a 1st level warning applied.

The only exclusions we have made are for maternity or DDA related absences.

However, we are experiencing resistence from manager’s adhering to the new policy where they are sympathetic to the employee’s reason for absence.

A couple of examples being a planned operation for a knee operation, and another case where the employee’s mother was terminally ill (they had 3 months off leading upto the death and 2 months after).

The stock answer we provide from HR is that all sickness absence is treated as geniune and we are not judging the reason for the absence but the impact on the business.

Before the introduction of the new policy, there was no standard that our managers were working to and reporting was sketchy. There were no consequences for employees with poor sickness records.

In the 3 months since introduction we have reduced absence by over 25% and issued 26 1st level warnings.

Do you think we need to re-introduce a level of discretion relating to the reason for absence? Will this not just lead us back to the previous inconsistencies and give ammunition to union representatives?

Do you have any ‘tolerances’ within your absence policy? Are these reason-related? Do they have time restrictions? For example, 2 weeks bereavement, followed by 2 weeks signed off with depression, would you treat this within your normal policy?

I hope I can gain a cross section of opinion to feedback to our HR Director.

Many thanks

Heather Howie