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To give you some context, I work in a small business - circa 30 people and in the last 12 months we have spent over £15,000 on sickness. This is because we don't invoke SSP (perhaps this is an issue?).

Sickness is the biggest issue in this business, at least one person a week (currently 5 people are off, hence my need to seek advice) but I actually feel like the CEO and Founder are disinterested by this. I keep trying to force the issue, I've shown them a cost breakdown of how much each employee has cost us in sickness, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Has anyone else had experience in their work place with sickness? Has anyone got any advice on how best to tackle this?

It's very demotivating for the people who are here, day in day out.

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  • Hi Danni,

    The policy around both short and long term absence is important, particularly where as an employer you need to support those with long-term illnesses etc.  We have found it useful to implement an Employee Assistance programme, which empowers employees to address there medical issues.  It is a fairly economical cost, some providers will offer things like counselling and CBT.  It also offers a 24 hour advice line for employee, an online portal with lots of support for different medical and wellbeing initiatives.  We have an excellent provider, happy to discuss if you think this might be helpful. 

    You might also want to consider a capability policy which would help you manage your absence levels.


  • Hi Danni

    Great to see you have had some great posts on this in terms of ideas.

    Have you considered biting the bullet and withdrawing the Company Sick pay scheme?

    You could adopt a wither on the vine approach where it is not provided for new starters and gradually phased out.  Or you could commence a consultation process to vary terms and conditions of employment, there would need to be a business case and you would need to provide consideration for the variation and ultimately consider dismissal and reengagement on the new terms, or you could also buy out the benefit from employees perhaps a less nuclear approach!

    I have done this in organisations previously where we had bonus schemes which were very expensive and did not deliver business benefit.

    All the best


  • Hi All, 

    Thanks so much for your input here.

    Lorraine - we talked about rewarding people for none sickness. This was a real none starter for us. Other people in the senior management team felt that they wouldn't want people coming into the office if they were sick, in turn making others sick - I kind of get it, but I was really for rewarding none sickness.

    Hi Christine,

    Multitude of reasons really - no common theme. I would put it down to engagement if we hadn't spent the last 6 months thrashing out surveys and well being updates and working on our incentives and bonuses and getting to the crux of what really motivates our people. I think you're right with the return to work interviews. We've been hesitant to bring them in but I think it's necessary!!

    Hi Lisa,

    It is isn't it?! I think today may have been the straw that broke the camels back and they're getting more on board actually. I've been tasked with coming up with a plan of action on how best to tackle the sickness! I think all three of your ideas are great. We pay 10 days full day before we would even think about triggering SSP! And I think I'll start thinking about an attendance management procedure.

    Thanks so much for your input. Really helpful. Wish me luck!

  • Hi Danni,

    That is an excessive amount for such a small business, sounds like you may have a tough time on your hands persuading the managers to take this seriously. Usually facts and figures get buy in. Can you maybe show them the other non-monetary effects its having and also do a comparison of how the money spent could go back into the business if they addressed this issue.

    I would say in terms of deterring people from being off sick you need three things:

    1. Return to Work Interviews

    2. A more stringent Company Sick Pay policy

    3. An attendance management procedure that has trigger points for sickness

    This has really worked in our company. I hope this helps and good luck.


  • Hi Danni,

    Are you able to give us an idea of the reasons for the absences? I work in a similar sized company and we do not have a huge problem with sickness. However we do not pay sick pay, only SSP, and I think this has something to do with it.

    Perhaps it would be worth looking at staff morale and engagement, if people are feeling low at work they're probably more likely to take sick days, especially if they're being paid for them. 

    Do you conduct Return to Work interviews? Perhaps doing this when people have been off for two or more days will give you a better insight into the reasons for absence. 


  • Morning Danni,

    I also work for a small business, We do not have much of a problem through sickness. I think it is because we have a Christmas bonus incentive scheme, where all employees get 2 weeks extra pay as long as there is no sickness or unauthorised absence during the year. If an employee is off for a week they would lose a weeks bonus. It seems to work for us. We have also covered the time after the bonus has been paid by the fact that any sickness days after the bonus has been paid is taken off the following years payment. 

    Hope this helps 

    Good Luck


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