Absence & Performance Management
Managing absence – particularly absence due to sickness – requires effective policies and procedures to be put in place. Similarly, if an employee of a business is under-performing, this is likely to have a detrimental impact on business and so being able to manage employee performance is integral to the success of your business.
Absence Management at Tinsdills
There is a clear financial cost to employee absence, but it can also result in workplace disruption and a negativity atmosphere created by other employees who are left covering the extra work. Absence management is generally concerned with reducing employee absenteeism (usually resulting from employee illness or injury) through your business’ policies and procedures. In order to have a positive effect, a business’ absence policies and procedures will need to be communicated to employees but also to the management teams to ensure a proactive approach across the business.
An absence policy should make clear exactly what is expected from both the employer and employee in the event that an employee needs to take time off work. The policy should cover how to report absences (including who to contact and when); when a sick note will be required; how to keep in touch during absence; how the employer records/tracks absence; the process for returning to work; and details regarding sick pay. If your business does not have an absence policy, employees are likely to raise queries regarding their entitlement (which you may not have information readily available on).
Performance management, on the other hand, is important as it will help to maximise the value created by the employees of a business and will ensure that employees properly contribute to business objectives. There is no standard definition of performance management, but it will cover things like establishing objectives against which employees can contribute to a business’ strategy; improving performance across the business; holding employees accountable for their performance; and providing a means to improve performance if it is below expectations.
At Tinsdills, we have a dedicated team of employment solicitors who are able to prepare your absence and performance management policies and procedures. We can guide you through the day-to-day processes you need to adhere to in order to comply with those policies, and what best practice is likely to be for your specific business to ensure you are not faced with employment claims and grievances from employees.
Employment law does not prohibit employers from contacting their employees who are absent from work due to sickness. In fact, it is good practice to maintain regular contact with absent employees. Maintaining contact with absent employees can be beneficial for both the employee and your business as it gives you an opportunity to keep them informed of their sickness entitlements (and any changes in entitlement over the period of sickness absence). It also allows you to identify and discuss opportunities to support the employee’s recovery and return to work, and to update the employee on any important changes within your business. Ideally, you should agree a level of contact with the employee that works for both parties, taking into consideration the sensitivity and circumstances surrounding the employee’s absence. Particular care should be taken when sickness absence is connected to elements of work-related stress and/or anxiety and contact in those situations may need to be less frequent.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is a government-backed scheme under which qualifying employees receive a weekly payment known as an SSP payment. In order to qualify for SSP, an employee must be absent from work due to incapacity and SSP will typically not be claimable for the first three days of any period of absence. Most employees will qualify for SSP provided they earn an average of at least £120 per week.
If an employee is consistently failing to meet the targets or minimum requirements expected of their job role, it may first be useful to have an informal conversation with the employee to identify if there are any reasons why the employee may not be meeting targets (for example, due to illness or external factors, such as issues or concerns outside of work) and to consider ways in which your business may be able to help. If there are no apparent issues or the reasoning provided is unsatisfactory, it is likely that you will need to follow your business’ performance management policies and procedures. These are likely to involve conducting a performance management hearing to discuss any issues, setting clear targets and reviewing them after a fixed period of time (usually anywhere from one to six months) to observe whether there has been any improvement. If no improvement is made then, assuming your business’ performance management policies and procedures allow it, you may be able to dismiss the employee on suitability grounds. However, it is important to discuss any performance issues or potential decisions to dismiss an employee with a specialist employment solicitor before commencing action to ensure that you are following correct procedures to mitigate the risk of the employee bringing an employment claim following their dismissal.
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