Effective management of absence is one of the biggest challenges facing any
employer and accurate measurement of employee absence, including the use of
triggers and targets, is one of the main tools which can be used in this
An absence trigger is a defined level of sickness absence that, once
reached, prompts a formal process whereby the line manager or another
senior manager looks further into the employee’s level of sickness absence.
Having absence trigger systems in place means that line managers can
discuss any patterns or issues with their employees, with the aim of
supporting them to improve attendance levels at work. In the event that the
absence management process does not produce the required improvement in the
employee’s attendance levels, it also forms part of a process that may
later be needed to justify a fair dismissal further down the line.
This month, Simply-Docs has added a series of absence management letters
using such trigger points. There are separate letters to be used in respect
of frequent sickness absences, i.e. when an employee is frequently absent
from work for relatively short periods of unconnected illnesses and for
long-term sickness absence, i.e. any absence lasting at least 28 calendar
The outcome of the absence management meeting may be that no action is
taken, that changes are made to the employee’s working pattern or role on a
temporary or permanent basis, or that a formal warning is given. A warning
should not be given if the reasons for the absence are pregnancy-related.
If the employee’s absence does not improve during the absence management
process, this may ultimately lead to the employee’s dismissal.
Employers should be aware that an employee on long term sick leave, or who
shows a pattern of frequent short-term sickness absence, may be suffering
from some form of disability. This means that reasonable adjustments have
to be made for them, including when inviting them to attend sickness
absence management meetings.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific