5 Top Things You Can Do To Improve Employee Attendance
1. Make Employees Aware of Expectations
Make sure employees are aware of attendance expectations and the effects of excessive absenteeism on the business including remaining team members, productivity and customer service. This sort of information should be made clear at an employee’s induction and reinforced through your employee manual, code of conduct and/or Personal/Carer’s Leave policy.
2. Analyse Attendance Records
Analyse attendance records to properly identify the extent of employee absence and any particular trends. For example, employees who seem to always be off on a Monday or a Friday or before or after a public holiday. There is no law against confronting an employee and asking for an explanation as to why their absences mostly seem to occur on particular days.
3. Have a Clear Policy in Place
Have a clear policy and procedure that employees must follow if they are going to be absent. For example, you could state that employees:
Make direct contact with a manager or someone in authority to advise of their absence, the nature of their illness and when they expect to return. Do not allow employees to just speak with the receptionist or send email or text messages to a work colleague. If an employee is not genuine about being sick, they may think twice if they are required to speak directly with the boss.
Are expected to make contact by a certain time or within a specified time period.
Are required to provide evidence of their illness which may be a Doctor’s Certificate or Statutory Declaration. Note: The Fair Work Act 2009 no longer requires an employee to produce a medical certificate or statutory declaration. Instead, the Personal/Carer’s Leave National Employment Standard (“NES”) requires that employees provide evidence that would satisfy a “reasonable person” of their unfitness for work. Therefore, it may not be considered reasonable to expect employees to produce a medical certificate for every single day absent unless the sick leave is excessive or there is a clear pattern of single day absences e.g.. Fridays and Mondays or every second Thursday etc. Given the NES does not define “reasonable” it is timely to ensure that your business has a clear policy in place which defines what evidence requirements are expected of employees. Additionally, the NES provides that an Enterprise Agreement or Modern Award may specify evidence requirements in relation to Personal/Carer’s leave.
4. Make Employees Aware of the Consequences
Make employees aware of the consequences of not adhering to your Personal/Carer’s leave policy which may include disciplinary action. Remember to focus on whether the employee has followed the correct notice and evidence procedures rather than try and establish whether the person was genuinely sick or not. Only a Doctor is qualified to do that!
5. Follow Up With Employees Upon Their Return
Follow up with employees face to face when they return to work and inquire about their wellness and whether they are fit to resume normal duties. This lets the employee know that you are concerned about their well-being and that you have “noticed” their absence.