From time to time, your employees will take time off. But, when an employee is off far too often, it may raise concerns for your business.
Your costs, performance, and workplace morale could be affected from an employee’s consistent absence.
There are several reasons why an employee may be off for an extended amount of time. You should try to understand why they are off in the first place and follow the correct process.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand what an absence review meeting is, the questions you should ask, and why they are important.
What is an Absence Review Meeting?
An absence review meeting is to discuss why an employee has been off for a period of time. This meeting gives you a chance to understand why the employee has been off work and if you can help them in any way.
At an absence review meeting, you need to outline the concerns that have led to this meeting.
You will need to review why an individual has been absent and if any actions need to be taken. But at this stage, this is an informal absence review meeting.
As employers, you need to address the problem properly. We’ve outlined some tips to ensure the conversation is productive:
- Be aware – this meeting is investigative and not disciplinary. Adjust your tone of voice to concern.
- Be private – ensure your meeting is being held in private. Public areas are inappropriate and could lead to an unproductive outcome.
- Explain – make sure your employee knows that attendance issues can affect performance. Provide data on why their role is significant to the workplace.
If an individual’s explanations for time off work aren’t seen as reasonable, this could lead to a formal meeting.
What Sickness Absence Review Meeting Questions Can I Ask?
In an absence review meeting, you need to ask the right questions. They need to be just right to not cause confusion or stress.
Your tone of voice should be understanding as you want to find out more about the employee’s lack of attendance.
To stay productive , you need to ask the right absence review meeting questions:
- Ask the employee to talk through their reasons for being off.
- Ask if there are any justifying circumstances that you’re unaware of.
- Does the employee have any plans to prevent sickness absence in the future?
- Explain what the outcome of an absence review meeting could be.
These questions will ensure you can help and understand your worker’s situation.
Are There Stages to Review Meetings?
Absence reviewing meetings can be split into three formal stages with a facility for an appeal at each stage.
Stage 1 absence meeting
Stage 1 should outline the sickness absence concerns they have that led to the meeting. This should be a formal meeting as an employee’s attendance level has been deemed unacceptable.
In this meeting, you should discuss reasons for absence and give the employee a chance to explain their absence.
If an employee has been absent due to a sickness, you may want to postpone the meeting to achieve medical evidence.
Identify any measures such as occupational health and talk about how improvements can be made.
You should account for reasonable adjustments in the workplace. This is to change or remove the effect of an employee’s disability so they can perform their job.
Ensure you plan a review so you can see if your employee’s attendance has improved.
If the evidence provided by the employee is enough, then no further action may be required. You should confirm this to the employee in writing within ten days.
If concerns continue after these meetings, a formal stage 2 meeting may be needed.
Stage 2 absence meeting
A formal stage 2 meeting should only be held if a return-to-work programme has been unsuccessful for an employee.
In this meeting, discuss why the programme has been unsuccessful and the on-going absence. You may want to understand how long this absence is likely to last too.
Stage 3 absence meeting
If an employee’s attendance does not improve, they will be processed to a more a stage 3 meeting.
A stage 3 meeting is triggered at any point if an absence is ongoing and it’s unlikely an employee is able to return to work in the near future.
The employee will be notified if they need to attend a stage 3 meeting with at least 5 working days’ notice via an invite letter.
At this stage, the employee will receive a letter on the next steps.
Absence review meeting letter
The employee will be notified of the following for the stage 3 review meeting:
- The purpose of the meeting.
- Details of sickness absence concerns and any reasons.
- Consequence of the meeting.
- Ask the employee to make any written submissions.
- Tell the employee of their right to the accompanied.
The letter will also provide a summary of the absence records of the employee. And any relevant documents which will be used in the meeting.
If you decide to dismiss your employee after insufficient evidence, you should provide reasons for your decision. You should also include a date that the employment will end.
Dismissing a member of staff should always be the last resort after you consider all other options.
Consider your employee has any underlying health issues first. If they do and you haven’t adhered to the correct process, disability discrimination claims could be made against you.
Get advice on absence reviews with BrightHR
There are legal requirements to keep in mind in all stages of sickness absence review meetings.
Make sure you let your employee explain why they have been absent and try to understand their side. In some cases, dismissal is recommended but this should only be a last resort if an employee cannot provide sufficient evidence for their absence.
BrightHR can alleviate any stress you have about your employee’s attendance and help you to prepare any absence review meetings.
If you need any help on creating an effective policy for absenteeism, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.