Guidelines for Absenteeism Control
There are two types of absenteeism, each of which requires a different type of approach.
1. Innocent Absenteeism
Innocent absenteeism refers to employees who are absent for reasons beyond their control; like sickness and injury. Innocent absenteeism is not culpable which means that it is blameless. In a labourrelations context this means that it cannot be remedied or treated by disciplinary measures.
2. Culpable Absenteeism
Culpable absenteeism refers to employees who are absent without authorization for reasons which are within their control. For instance, an employee who is on sick leave even though he/she is not sick, and it can be proven that the employee was not sick, is guilty of culpable absenteeism.To be culpable is to be blameworthy. In a labour relations context this means that progressive discipline can be applied.
For the large majority of employees, absenteeism is legitimate, innocent absenteeism which occurs infrequently. Procedures for disciplinary action apply only to culpable absenteeism. Many organizations take the view that through the process of individual absentee counsellingand treatment, the majority of employees will overcome their problems and return to an acceptable level of regular attendance.
Identifying Excessive Absenteeism
Attendance records should be reviewed regularly to be sure that an employee's sick-leave days are excessive compared to other employees. If a supervisor suspects that an employee is excessively absent, this can be confirmed throughreviewing the attendance records.
If all indications show that an employee is excessively absent, the next step is to gather as much information as possible in order to get a clearer picture of the situation. The employees' files should be reviewed and the employees immediate supervisor should document all available information on the particular employee's history.
After allavailable information has been gathered, the administrator or supervisor should individually meet with each employee whom has been identified as having higher than average or questionable (or pattern) absences. This first meeting should be used to bring concerns regarding attendance to the employee's attention. It is also an opportunity to discuss with the employee, in some depth, the causes ofhis or her attendance problem and possible steps he or she can take to remedy or control the absences. Listen carefully to the employee's responses.
The tone of the meeting should not be adversarial, but a major purpose of the interview is to let the employee know that management treats attendance as a very important component of overall work performance. Keep your comments non-threatening andwork-oriented. Stick to the facts (i.e. patters, profiles, rates etc.). The employee should be given a copy of there attendance report with absences highlighted for discussion.
This interview will give you the opportunity to explore in depth with the employee the reasons for his or her absence. Gather facts - do not make any assumptions. Provide support and counselling and offer guidance as theoccasion demands to assist the employee to deal with the specific cause of the absence.
Often, after the initial meeting employees reduce their absenteeism. The meeting shows that you are concerned and that absenteeism is taken seriously. The employee's attendance should be closely monitored until it has been reduced to acceptable levels. Appropriate counselling should take place as is thoughtnecessary. If a marked improvement has been shown, commend the employee. The meeting should be documented and a copy placed in the employee's file.
Proof of Illness
Sometimes it is helpful in counselling employees with excessive innocent or culpable absenteeism to inquire or verify the nature and reasons of their absence.
The extent to which an employer may inquire into the nature of and reasons...