The unpredictability of staff absences can make it a challenging HR task—and a costly one.

The average UK worker is absent almost seven days annually, costing employers an average of £554 in sick pay. Yet although 87% of organisations collect absence data, less than 40% monitor its cost (source: CIPD 2015 data).

Through absence management, you can seek a balance between supporting your employees' wellbeing and taking firm, fair action against sick pay abuse.

 A range of methods can help you measure absence, understand how it’s affecting your business, and manage it effectively.

What is a holiday request form?

It’s template where an employee fills out details of their plans for holiday time.

As part of the holiday form request, a line manager will review the request and clear or deny the request.

After that, you can file the details into your personnel database and keep a record of all your staff members’ collective time off.

Your business can choose this approach to create a printable holiday request form.

A staff holiday planner wall chart is also a possibility for small businesses as you can easily keep track of when each employee will be on holiday.

But you can also rely on modern HR software to keep track of all of this, too.

For example, we have a staff holiday planner at BrightHR that removes the need for paper forms and spreadsheets. It allows you to:

  • Pull up automatic staff holiday entitlement information—you’ll know it’s accurate right away.
  • Automated resolutions for employees, even based on awkward start dates.
  • Automatic refresh for when your new holiday year begins.
  • Organise mandatory or holiday leave quickly and efficiently.
  • Stop holiday clashes amongst your workforce.
  • Monitor your team’s absences in one easy-to-use interface.

Understanding absence at your organisation

Not all employee absence is the same. The reasons your staff take time off can fall into three broad groups:

  1. Authorised absence includes annual, family and education leave. It’s usually managed through the employment contract.
  2. Short-term sickness and long-term sickness are often the primary concern of absence management policies. Minor illness is a major cause of absence, while around a quarter of businesses say non-genuine sick absence is a problem (CIPD 2015).
  3. Unauthorised absence includes persistent lateness that costs working time. It’s usually managed as an employee conduct issue.

You should aim to measure this so you have a decent understand of what’s going on.

By doing so, you can to grips with the extent and cause of absence issues. Useful measurements include the:

  • Lost time rate: This is the percentage of possible working time lost to absence.
  • Frequency rate: The average number of absence periods per employee.
  • Bradford Factor: A method of identifying persistent short-term absence for individuals.

Creating an absence policy

A clear absence management policy helps employees understand their sickness absence rights and responsibilities.

Rules on sick leave and pay form part of your employment terms and conditions, so you’re legally obliged to inform employees about them. 97% of UK organisations have an absence policy (CIPD 2015).

You can also use an absence policy to support your absence goals and your workplace culture. Policies often include:

  • Rules for notifying managers about absence, when self-certificate forms and fit notes are needed and return-to-work interviews.
  • How you’ll support employees to return to work through adjustments.
  • What you expect during severe weather and other major events.

Managing absence

When employees know what you expect from them, it’s easier for you to keep track of their absences. There are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Short-term absence: Return-to-work interviews can help identify problems early. Disciplinary procedures are effective for unacceptable absence. Further methods utilise absence data to trigger attendance reviews and pay restrictions.
  2. Long-term absence: A few long-term absences can easily account for a large proportion of total absence. That’s why it’s useful to have a formal return-to-work strategy, which can rehabilitate workers to return faster. Your strategy might include regular reviews with sick employees, planning workplace adjustments, and involving occupational health professionals.
  3. Absence management and the law: Your approach should comply with relevant laws including the Equality Act 2010, the Access to Medical Records Act 1998, and the Data Protection Act 1998. If an employee becomes disabled, you might need to make reasonable workplace adjustments so you don’t discriminate against them.

Sample holiday request form

These are quite simple to create—you can follow the structure below or adapt it to suit your business’ requirements.

For this holiday request form example, you can add your business letterhead to the form and add other details as you see fit.

*Holiday request form templates guide*

Title: Holiday Request Form

Please complete this form and hand it to your line manager, who will then authorise your holiday leave.

You should not book your holiday time until this form has received the correct authorisation and processing to personnel files.

Employee Name:

Date of Request:

First Date of Holiday:

Last Day & Date of Holiday:

Number of Working Days:

Total Number of Days:

Employee Signature and Date:

Authorised By and Date:

*Template end*

For the above, you can add this into a table if you wish to section out each area. You can also use software such as Excel to make a basic form structure.

Need our help?

Learn more about leave and absence. We offer comprehensive HR compliance guides and opinions on the latest absence management issues. Get in touch: 0800 783 2806.