How to Create an Absence Management PlanA fair policy for your employees and your business

Employee absences are an inevitable part of business.

Accepting this fact is the first step.

As a manager or owner of a small business, you will have to deal with employees not turning up to work for a variety of reasons.

Why do you need an absence management plan?

The goal of an absence management plan is not to reduce employee absences to zero. After all, some kinds of absence can be essential to employee wellbeing.

Holidays give them time to live outside of work, de-stress, and return more motivated than before.

Sick days allow your employees to recover properly rather than compromising their health and rushing back to work.

Compassionate leave helps them to get into a proper state of mind to return following a traumatic event. Caregivers may have to prioritise children or vulnerable people they look after and cancel shifts at short notice.

Understanding this and making allowances for it is part of being a good employer, one that is more likely to retain staff and keep them happy.

That said, there are other kinds of employee absences that companies will want to cut down on. Consistently arriving late for work is a type of absenteeism, and no-shows can wreak havoc on a business’s staff rota.

Tackling these while remaining understanding of other reasons is key to a cohesive approach.

So what do you need to include in an absence management plan to cover the many different reasons for employee absences?


Of course, your employees are entitled to holiday time off, and you should have a fair policy in place that allows them to do this. But your business can’t simply approve every holiday request without considering the impact it might have on your business.

What if all your front of house staff want to take the same week off? What if your warehouse would go unmanned had you blindly accepted every leave request?

Findmyshift can come in handy here. It allows you to see leave requests within the context of your rota, giving you the information you need to make informed approval decisions.

Will one area be left short-staffed, or is there someone who can cover for the dates suggested? You’ll have the power to see it all.

You can also get assistance by nominating other time-off managers to review requests as they come in. Sharing the workload will make it easier to keep on top of things and ensure you always have the right people for the job.

As part of your leave process, you should have a clear policy in place covering how employees request leave, what factors will go into the approval process, and the timescales involved.

This ensures employees request leave in adequate time for you to find cover and that they understand how requests are appraised and handled.

Sick leave and compassionate leave

Providing your employees with sick leave, or compassionate leave to deal with personal circumstances, is another way to look after them and their wellbeing.

And of course, it’s well established that happy employees are more productive, so taking care of them is a win-win situation.

Some managers are concerned about employees abusing sick leave policies to take days off when they don’t need them. By tracking absences, you can identify employees who have a pattern of taking sick days.

It could be that they are struggling with their health or another responsibility, and you can find a way to report them. Don’t assume the worst unless you have clear evidence to suggest otherwise.


Those with caring responsibilities may need time off at short notice if something happens to the person they are responsible for.

While an employee need not disclose details of their personal life, volunteering this information will help you understand when they might need to make use of additional leave.

Be sure to treat all employees equally, whether you are aware of their caregiving responsibilities or not.

Late arrivals

Regularly arriving late to work is a form of absenteeism. The employee in question is not fulfilling their scheduled hours and as such, is having a negative impact on your business.

Seek to understand such behaviour first. Is there a reason why an employee is consistently running late? Maybe they have a school run to do. Perhaps you can adjust their start time accordingly.

Smart time tracking from Findmyshift can help you identify patterns compared to a few isolated incidences of tardiness. It’s then up to you to talk to the staff member in question and work out what can be done.

Again, a clear policy on dealing with late arrivals at work will make these conversations easier and avoid springing disciplinary action on unsuspecting employees.

No shows

No shows can be the most frustrating form of employee absences, and your policy should be clear on how they will be dealt with. Again, there may be many reasons why an employee might not show up to work without notice.

Seek to understand the behaviour before taking further action, and check out our tips on dealing with no shows for more.

Employee absences can be a real pain for managers and owners, but these tips will help you craft a clear policy that takes into account all the different kinds of employee absences.

With that in place, you can treat each employee fairly and find ways to reduce avoidable absences and support your employees through the time off they really need.

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