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Top tips for dealing with the dreaded lurgy

Advice on dealing will staff sickness absence from the Forum of Private Business.

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Zombie movies are usually shot in January. Why's that?, you ask – well, it's because 60% of the population is suffering from 'flu and so, with mucus flying from every pore, there's no need to hire extras. But, what works for George Romero, doesn't work for the smaller business owner-manager who sees his or her workforce decimated. In this hot tip, we take a look at getting your company's sickness policies off the life support machine and into tip top shape. Ensure your sickness absence policy is tailored to your company's needs Make sure that you have a sickness policy that sets out clear rules for dealing with absenteeism, so that disciplinary action is triggered when frequency reaches an unacceptable level – whatever that may be for your organisation. Using established metrics, such as the ‘Bradford Factor', allow you to measure the frequency of absenteeism and the effect it is having on your operation. Regularly review sickness absences of your employees This may highlight patterns of absences. Two problems that some employees suffer from are the dreaded Fridayitis and the closely related Mondayenteritis. If, over a sustained period, you notice that an employee is seemingly prone to extending his or her weekend through sick days, then it may be time to take further action. The Forum's Employment Guide includes practical advice on dealing with all aspects of staff discipline. Communicate with staff Many work place grievances stem from poor communication. There is also a statutory duty for large company employers to consult with staff about some important business matters. If any changes to the sickness policy are planned, they should be communicated to the staff for discussion – it is not enough to simply communicate the changes once they have been agreed. Retain sickness absence and statutory sick pay records for at least three years An employee must normally pursue an employment tribunal claim within three months; however, an employee may pursue a personal injury claim through the county or high court within three years of the date of the accident or injury. Obtain a medical report In the case of long-term sickness absence, seek authorisation from the employee to obtain a medical report from his or her general practitioner. Consult the employee throughout the period of long-term sickness absence and always seek legal advice from an employment specialist before commencing any disciplinary procedure or terminating the employee's employment. Any mistakes here could leave you open to a very expensive tribunal claim, so it is well worth following a structured procedure. For more information on implementing a manageable sickness procedure and all other aspects of employment law, check out the Forum's Employment Guide or call us on 0845 130 1722.

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