Sickness absence and sick pay

Noelle MurphyEditor's message: While qualifying employees are entitled to statutory sick pay at a basic rate, many employers choose to pay occupational sick pay, often at employees' normal rate of pay. With most organisations continually looking at ways to recruit and retain the best employees, a good occupational sick pay scheme can be an important workplace benefit.

Whatever sick pay scheme you have in place, if your organisation is to remain productive and competitive, it needs to manage its absence rates proactively. While most employees will naturally be off sick at some stage, excessive sickness absence can have a negative impact on productivity, customer-service levels and staff motivation, as well as resulting in increased staffing costs.

The cornerstone of an effective sickness absence management policy and procedure will be the accurate recording and measurement of sickness absence, with triggers set to initiate absence management action when an employee's absence reaches the defined level.

Key too is ensuring that line managers hold a return-to-work interview after each incidence of sickness absence. Not only can this provide an opportunity to check on the employee's wellbeing and potentially uncover any underlying reasons behind the absence, but it can also discourage casual absence.

Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor

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