Employers: Dealing with Excessive Absenteeism in the Workplace

Employers: Dealing with Excessive Absenteeism in the Workplace

One of the most complicated issues employers face in the workplace today – is excessive absenteeism. But, how can an employer know when to be concerned or when an absence warrants a legitimate inquiry? What if the absence is a symptom of a larger, more serious problem? 

It’s difficult for employers to know exactly how to tackle any one case as there is no one size fits all. But, it’s important for employers to understand how to identify any potential “red flags” that may exist. There are many ways to effectively communicate with the employee in a constructive manner, and noticing any red flags at the on-set is key to implementing a solution that works for everyone. 

Red Flags:

  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Sudden, clear changes in mood
  • Tearfulness and expressions of hopelessness
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Change in physical appearance
  • Symptoms of exhaustion
  • Unexplained deterioration in the quality of work
  • Rumours that the employee has been hospitalized or is in counseling

How to approach an employee who is struggling:

It is important for a manager to have good conversations early on regarding performance or attendance at work.  The earlier that the conversations occur, the better the support that can be provided.  Here are some steps to take if someone is struggling:

  • I – Identify signs and prepare for the conversation
  • D – Determine if there is risk for harm to self or others
  • E – Engage in the conversation and listen nonjudgementally
  • A – Ask about work adjustments or accommodations that may be appropriate
  • S – Suggest supports and services at work that can assist
  • S- Suggest supports and services from their health care provider or community

Types of Inquiries Employers Can Make:

  • Whether any of the attendance or performance concerns you are seeing are caused or contributed to by a medical condition and, if so, to what extent
  • What workplace accommodations may be required for the employee and for how long in order to support the employee being at work or performing their work
  • Whether the employee has been prescribed treatment for the condition that may affect the effective or safe performance of their work
  • What the employee’s prognosis is for returning to work in their position or an accommodated position, their expected return to work date, and any gradual return to work recommendations
  • Whether a follow-up medical appointment is required and, if so, what frequency

How can Gowan Consulting Help?

  1. Provision of training to Managers on how to support employees in staying at work
  2. Preparation of clear policies and procedures for accommodation, substance use and fitness to work programs
  3. Provision of Occupational Therapy Accommodation assessments and intervention to support safe work operations

If you would like to learn more about workplace accommodations, please check out our services for Providing Early Intervention and Return to Work planning.

Gowan Consulting has many resources to assist employees with accommodation concerns. If you’d like to learn more about workplace accommodations or return to work, check out our upcoming Applying Work Focused Cognitive behavioural Principles to Return to Work Facilitation happening in Mississauga on November 26th!

We also have webinars on AccommodationMental HealthReturn to Work and several other topics if self-learning is more your thing!

Want to know how we can assist you personally in the workplace? Contact Us!

Works cited:

Check-in for a Check-up – An Employer’s Duty to Make Inquiries, by Taryn Mackie (October 13th, 2019), https://www.globalworkplaceinsider.com/2019/10/check-in-for-a-check-up-an-employers-duty-to-make-inquiries/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original  

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