• 21 DEC 16
    How to manage workforce absence over Christmas

    How to manage workforce absence over Christmas

    How to manage workforce absence over Christmas

    Workplace absence levels typically increase during the winter months, but Christmas is a hotspot for absenteeism, with festive parties and ‘day after the night before’ sick days presenting additional challenges for business owners.

    While some firms experience a surge in sales of products and services during the festive season, others see a slowdown, while some down tools completely.

    Managing your workforce properly is imperative to ensure your business runs seamlessly during the transition period between Christmas and New Year. So how well prepared is your firm to take on the festive season? Here are my top tips for effectively maintaining a stable workforce.

    Annual leave over Christmas

    Policies will vary from firm to firm, with some businesses having a shutdown period and requiring staff to take mandatory annual leave. Others may require minimal staff levels, while some will need to hire temporary workers to service additional demand.

    Employee shortfalls can be managed by:

    • Determining periods when leave can and cannot be taken;
    • Determining the number of staff that can take leave at any one time;
    • Clearly stating procedures for requesting time off in contracts of employment;
    • Being fair and consistent with all staff when dealing with annual leave requests.

    Dealing with sickness absence

    People pulling a ‘sickie’ is another area of concern that employers must contend with.

    Business owners must ensure they keep in line with company sickness policies over the festive period too, ensuring proper ‘back to work’ interviews are completed following an employee’s return from sickness leave.

    This will help determine whether the sickness absence is genuine, and will flag up whether disciplinary action needs to be taken if someone has ‘pulled a sickie’.

    Employers should issue a statement ahead of Christmas parties, reminding staff about behaviour and expected conduct, while also advising on the effects of excess alcohol consumption. This can also help act as a deterrent to employees planning on calling in sick.

    Adverse weather conditions

    As we move into an era of modern working, employees are entitled to flexible working options and the ability to work from home, so firms must ensure they have a flexible working policy in place.

    Firms should also consider introducing an adverse weather policy to advise staff on what action should be taken and who to report to if they are unable to get to work because of bad weather.

    This should clearly communicate procedures relating to issues including disruptions to public transport, workplace closure, whether employees who fail to turn up to work will be paid and any associated disciplinary sanctions.

    Firms must also remember that any staff working from home will need access to digital files, as well as equipment such as phones, laptops and an internet connection.

    For more information on managing absence at work, contact Michael Shroot on Michael.Shroot@whnsolicitors.co.uk or 0161 761 8087