Having trouble with staff tardiness?

With the recent “Meltdown Monday” as labelled by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) rescheduled every service on its Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern franchise causing dozens of trains to be cancelled. As a manager, how do you deal with staff arriving late to work? If the train causes a one-off late arrival that may be easy to deal with. But what if tardiness continues?

Pelican director, Cheryl Bennett, an executive coach and HR expert with more than 20 years’ experience with a myriad of blue chip companies, looks at how to manage attendance in the workplace.

Regardless of business size, high levels of absence or lateness (even if authorised sick leave) can lead to low productivity and low morale. It stands to reason that we want our staff to be at work on time and on a regular basis. But many managers don’t like tackling poor attendance and resort to sarcastic comments “alarm not go off again?” or simply say nothing, instead of managing attendance effectively.

Interestingly, absenteeism is on the decline since 1999 and it is likely that the recession has had some impact on this. So, what are the main reasons for sickness absence? According to the report: Sickness absence in the labour market: 2016 from the Office for National Statistics, minor illnesses (such as coughs and colds) were the most common reason for absence, accounting for 24.8% of the total days lost to sickness in the UK. This was followed by musculoskeletal problems (including back pain, neck and upper limb problems) at 22.4%. The report also concluded that the national average for the number of sick days per year per person is around 4.6.

So how do you manage attendance? I have three top tips to help you:

  1. Create and implement an attendance policy which includes ‘return to work interviews’ – and stick to it with everyone regardless of position in the business. Record absence and lateness and take action with repeat offenders including seeking medical opinions if necessary. Make sure the policy features at induction so you start as you mean to go on!
  2. Be as flexible as possible with working arrangements – a late arrival can be replaced with working a little longer or at the end of the day or working from home when there is a transport issue. Perhaps homeworking, part-time or job-share can be offered?
  3. Provide health support in the workplace. This can vary enormously:
  • A health cash plan which pays towards simple solutions which can have a big impact such as physiotherapy, counselling and optical and dental care
  • Dog to work day – lots of companies have found the presence of a dog in the workplace improves morale! (But check for allergies first!)
  • To avoid muscular-skeletal and eye problems, check seating positions and encourage breaks from screens for staff who sit for a large part of the day
  • Encourage physical activity, healthy eating and mental well being. Consider offering meditation, gym membership, lunchtime walks and office fruit

Some other things to note:

Fit Note

Where an employee is not fully recovered but can do some work within limitations, a GP can issue a Fit Note (a Statement for Fitness for Work). It aims to focus on what an employee may be able do at work rather than what they cannot do. When issuing this a GP will consider fitness for work in general, not fitness for a specific job that the employee is doing. This can include:

– a phased return to work

– flexible working

– amended duties

– workplace adaptations.

Statutory sick pay

Employees need to qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) and must have been off work sick for four or more days in a row (including non-working days). If an employee is off sick for three days, they would not be eligible as the first three are ‘waiting days’. However, if they are then off work a second time within an eight-week period the first three days count towards the ‘waiting days’ so they immediately become eligible.

For HR help and advice on attendance policy creation and implementations and much more, contact Cheryl on 01457 820807 or via email at cheryl.bennett@pelicomms.co.uk