How many sick days are too many???

I record when ever staff are off sick, as I am sure all of you do. Then what do you do with these reports? Who decides when a member of staff has been off sick a little too often? What is many days off and what's not? I am personally not ill very often, and I don't think a common cold is a reason for me not to go to work. However, people can suffer from migraines, tonsillitis and so on, conditions that often repeats itself during a year. Do you have any policies on when it's time to have an "absence chat" with your employees?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


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  • Hi Toril,

    I think that the industry you work in should also have a bearing on whatever limit you set. I work within the construction industry and the nature of the work our staff do exposes them to far different environments than say for example a office based environment.

    Personally I would consider 10 to be a trigger point for monitoring an individual but our MD would much rather a start at 6 as 'people don't get ill in this day and age'!


    Hope that helps



  • Hi Toril,


    We operate a 3 periods of absence in a 12 month rolling period invokes procedure. A RTW interview is conducted for every absence.The procedure begins with an investigation into the 3 periods of absence, if it is felt that there attendance has been unsatisfactory i.e. "monday morning syndrome" then we would then follow our disciplinary procedure. If it is warranted i.e a employee has a medical condition or childcare issues we would take these into consideration. I guess you know who the problem people are? The key with this is regardless of who they are we always investigate after 3 periods of absence.

    This has worked well as our absence has dropped fro 7% to below 3% across a workforce of 500 employees over the last 2 years. Only one employee has been dismissed due to unsatisfactory attendance. A few have received first and second stage warnings but their repeated illness appears to have remedied itself!




  • Hi Toril,

    I guess there are two ways to look at this - those that are genuinely ill on a regular basis, and those that will take sick leave at the slightest sign of a cold, or even with no sign of a cold! 

    We haven't set a specific number of sick days to act as a trigger, primarily because some of the Trustees come from a background where having say, 10 days in a year as a trigger point, resulted in staff treating it as 10 days to be taken as extra leave! I personally don't believe that many, if any, of our staff would do that though.

    I do look out for trends - lots of Friday sick days for example would lead me to focus in on the individual.  

    I'll be following this discussion with interest, as we do have one or two staff who are genuinely ill on a regular basis through migraine.  So far, it's been something that I have been happy to let be as I know they are ill on the days they are off, and I'd rather they rested than make  things worse by trying to work through it.  There must come a point though, as you suggest, where a limit is reached. I will add that we do have annual occupational health checks in place as well.

    Hope this helps?


    • Thank you Steve, that's very useful. I think 10 days a year is a good marker. We have 'return to work' interviews, but not sure if they work in the way we intended them to. Thank you for your reply, Steve.

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