Managing Absenteeism

When an employee is hired, the employee is expected to be regularly available for their scheduled work in return for payment for those days of work.

Absenteeism, which refers to frequent, short, unscheduled or unexpected absences due to sickness or other types of leaves, can negatively affect team productivity and morale and the employer’s reputation.

Supervisors with concerns about an employee's absenteeism may work with an human resource (HR) adviser to identify the specific issues and next steps.

Process

Contact AskMyHR. You will be asked to provide specific information about

  • The nature and extent of the absenteeism
  • Your concerns about impact to the workplace
  • The dates of absences. Be prepared to provide supporting documents

The HR adviser determines whether it's necessary to consult with specialists from Occupational Health and Safety, Early Intervention and Return to Work or Employee Relations.

Communication is important. The HR adviser is available to provide guidance. Supervisors must meet with employees to

  • Give the employee an opportunity to share information about their situation
  • Discuss concerns about the employee’s absences and impact on their work performance and the work unit
  • Ask if there is anything that may explain the attendance issue
  • Ask if there is something the supervisor can do to facilitate improved attendance
  • Clarify the purpose of any requests for changes to the employee's job or work
  • Provide information regarding support through Employee and Family Assistance Services
  • Clearly state the employer's expectation regarding attendance and plan future attendance goals and timelines

After this meeting, supervisors are encouraged to consult with AskMyHR regarding the discussions. The next step is for a supervisor to provide the employee with a letter that recaps the discussion, and outlines the support available to help the employee maintain attendance.

Ongoing Management

Once the employee has been notified of the issue, the supervisor works with them to establish attendance goals, timelines and regular communication. 

There are many reasons for employees to be absent. For example, an employee may have medical issues; a supervisor may encourage the employee to work with their physician to identify a treatment program that enables the employee to improve attendance. Other reasons may include a challenging relationship with a co-worker, a heavy workload, training gaps or a personal issue.

One of the keys to managing employee absences is maintaining a positive relationship with each employee. If the various types of support available to an employee are not helping, a supervisor is encouraged to follow up with AskMyHR and explore possible next steps.