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Colleagues less sympathetic to sick leave than bosses

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It might be because they don’t have the worries of employment law or it could be because they have to do the extra work – but colleagues are less likely to be sympathetic to sick leave than bosses.

Research by Croner indicates that there is a discrepancy between employers and employees when it comes to acceptable reasons for phoning in sick.

A whopping 91 per cent of employers felt that cold and flu was a suitable reason, compared to 81 per cent of employees. Meanwhile, 77 per cent of employers thought migraine was a reasonable reason for calling in sick, with just 65 per cent of employees agreeing.

But even though bosses are so understanding, one in three British workers admitted to exaggerating their sickness to justify taking time off work.

According to Croner, these findings point to either a lack of comprehensive workplace sickness policies, or if those policies are in place, how they are communicated to employees.

And it is advising businesses to implement policies to encourage frequent communication, including back-to-work interviews, and consideration of individual circumstances.

Gillian Dowling, employment technical consultant at Croner, said: “The surveys have highlighted a real discrepancy over what employers and employees believe to be acceptable reasons for calling in sick.

“Staff illness is a difficult area for employers to manage as there will always be some employees who take advantage of the system, and others who will drag themselves in to work, even on their last legs.

“Employers should implement a comprehensive sickness policy which should clearly set out the procedures for recording and reporting sickness absence and managing short and long-term absence.

“This policy should be communicated to all employees at suitable times, for example when a new employee attends an induction.

“Well thought out and communicated sickness policies will not only reduce unauthorised absences, they will have a positive effect on team morale and the overall health and wellbeing in the workplace, which will ultimately boost productivity.”

Croner’s top tips for creating an effective sickness absence policy are:


  • Give primary responsibility for sickness absence to senior managers or HR managers

  • Keep relevant records

  • Consider improving employment conditions to reduce workplace stress and accidents — which are often a root cause of sickness absence

  • Consider improving physical working conditions, ergonomic factors in workplace design and health and safety standards

  • Design jobs to give motivation and provide job satisfaction

  • Provide proper induction and training

  • Check that policies on equal opportunities and discrimination are in place and upheld

  • Consider requiring absent employees to phone in by a given time on each day of absence

  • Notify employees on requirements for reporting sickness absence

  • Meet with employees in an attempt to resolve short term and long term absentee issues, and continue to communicate with the employee to gauge the seriousness of long term absence in business

  • Ensure that senior managers, line managers and supervisors have the ability to conduct interviews and to support staff as appropriate during and following sickness absence.


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