Where an employer wishes to reward employees for low sickness absence, what factors must it take into account?

Attendance incentives or bonuses are usually designed both as an incentive for future attendance and to reward good attendance records. They are sometimes used as part of a broader absence management programme. When contemplating the introduction of an attendance incentive scheme, employers must give careful consideration to how the scheme might disadvantage employees who have to take time off sick because of a disability or a pregnancy-related illness. Any scheme must be fair, and employers must therefore consider making allowances within their scheme for such absences. If they do not, they risk a discrimination claim from an employee alleging less favourable treatment.

Any scheme should also address treatment of the various statutory rights to time off that are unrelated to sickness absence, such as maternity, adoption, paternity and parental leave, and time off for dependants and public duties. In addition, if unpaid time off is granted to employees for religious observance, the employer should make an allowance for this to avoid the risk of a religious discrimination claim.