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Reducing Staff Absence


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Has anyone got any tried and tested methods for reducing staff absence. I have a large setting with an outrageous level! Have made inroads to the problem but would like to introduce something that has a dramatic and immediate impact!

 

Any ideas? Anyone had a similar problem that they have resolved?

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What is your limit for absence in any 12 month period - in my job it is 9 days in 12 months with a clear policy of informal and formal reviews which are triggered by various things eg several periods of illness that exceed the 9 days, or a prolonged period of absence. (This is the local authority employee policy) As part of the review a referral to occupational health can be madeto ensure there are no underlying factors the employer needs to be aware of to ensure proper support etc if there are.

 

Time off for sick children can only be granted if it is a communicable disease(i.e.chicken pox etc) otherwise the parent has to take it as annual leave (which does mean those of us without children don't feel we are eternally propping up the workplace for those that do, which in a female oriented job can sometimes be the case)

Time off for hospitals/dentists etc can only be taken if you can still work a minimum of 4 hours in the working day otherwise it is AL or sick

 

 

In school we had to phone in by 7.30 am to allow cover to be arranged as the early years classes were not splt like older classes.

Leaving at lunch time counted as a half day absence

Attendance records were kept and used in reviews as evidence of poor attendance and as part of staff appraisal

 

I would be rather sceptical about staff finding their own cover - what if they can't or a genuinely not well enough to? If I was off with a migraine the LAST thing I would be capable of doing is arranging other people's work as I would be in a drug hazed dark space by then!!

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I think adopting a policy like the one Catma describes above would definatly help to tackle the problem. At my school as far as I know there is no such policy and illnesses and staff absence are never brought up on appraisals etc. As a result staff absence is at an all time high which is not good but worse still for those staff who are in every single day whether feeling poorly or not it is very demoralising. I know I would be all in favour of adopting a similar policy if I had my way at school.

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When I worked for a LA we had similar to Catma, also with a 'back to work' interview during which you would be expected to fill in a form stateing actual illness - couldn't just put 'cold or flu' needed to fully descripe symptoms etc.. having said that we did have good back-up with referal to occupational health specialist.

 

xx

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Our employer is a Primary Care Trust - they have well-established policies and procedures for flagging up continuing episodes of absence and sickness and employees have to attend occupational health interviews as soon as the level reaches a certain point. You might be able to find some examples of policies from health organisations on the net that you could use as a starting point for developing one of your own?

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Jenni B Posted Today, 15:20 In my setting (sessional pre-school) we have low absence levels purely due to the fact that if we are off sick, we dont get paid! !!

To be honest I drag myself to school some days because I DO get paid and would feel guilty for staying home for minor things.

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To be honest I drag myself to school some days because I DO get paid and would feel guilty for staying home for minor things.

And it can have the effect of people struggling in to work when they really should be at home because they can't afford to miss a day's work...

 

I guess a lot of it is down to attitude really: there will always be those who will take time off for the most trivial things and those who will struggle on because they know the team will carry an extra burden without them.

 

Maz

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I forgot the return to work interviews as well!

 

It's tricky isn't it - I've worked with people who I KNEW were just pulling sickies (one was labelled "the monday migraine" and although we got around her absence it certainly did nothing for staff morale and the fact that apparently nothing was ever done about it, yet we were always there slogging away. Yes, there was a policy but the head didn't apply it so it was meaningless and that had a huge impact on staff morale which lead to further stress and therefore sickness which then spiraled off. (I have to admit, like Marion, I have a victorian work ethic drilled into me by my parents and so very rarely have time off anyway but the stress of covering for others on a regular basis did start to bring even me down at that time).

 

But, having an ethos where people feel they can't possibly be off sick (through no pay or otherwise) is also unhealthy I think.

 

Fortunately I think my employees and managers are very supportive but the policy is very clear and is there to protect ALL our interests and because it is visibly carried out noone feels that they are getting dumped on by others as sickness will always be genuine. The wider impact of high sickness rates cannot be underestimated i think and the effects can be pernicious.

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