Six Top Tips for Dealing with Staff Absences

Staff absences are a common problem for small, medium, and even large businesses in Ireland. In fact, a recent report has shown that due to illness, about 11 million days in total are lost by businesses across the country each year.

The costs to these businesses in staff absences is around the €15 billion mark. Not only is this an onerous cost but it can also lower staff morale and increase stress levels; it can also have a knock-on negative effect on customer experience.

All of this can lead to unwelcome stress for you as the employer. Not only can it disrupt projects but it can also give rise to anxiety as you attempt to cope with unexpected absences.

1. Attendance policies

One of the best starting points is to establish a clear attendance policy, and communicate it to all team members. This will ensure they understand, not only what is expected of them in reporting absence, but also what support you will offer during periods of absence.

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2. Don’t forget the certificate

When a staff member is off work due to sickness for more than three days, they are required to send a medical certificate to their employer stating why they are not fit to work.

The duration of these certificates should be confirmed at the beginning of the sickness period. If you require weekly updates, or monthly certificates for long-term absence, make this clear in your attendance policy.

3. Staff well being

When you run a business in the trades sector, staff well being might not be your top priority, but by ensuring that your employees feel supported, they are more likely to turn up for work and be more productive.


4. Great ways to boost the well being of your staff

  • Empathise with your staff and try to understand the issues they are facing
  • Recognise key players within the team and give them incentives to carry on achieving
  • Encourage social interaction, perhaps a monthly trip to the pub after work

5. Supporting staff on their return to work

If a staff member has been off work, you may be tempted on their return to continue where you left off. Instead, you should pencil in some time to meet them to discuss their absence, and what you can do to help them settle back to work.

A return-to-work interview should include:

  • A discussion about any medication prescribed to assess what effect, if any, it will have on their work
  • Recommendations from their doctor around their working environment such as optimum working hours, breaks or additional support
  • Concerns the employee may have about their workload or their working environment and how they might be addressed

6. Dealing with recurring absences

Despite your best efforts, you may at some stage be faced with an employee taking repeated absences from the workplace. How you deal with this is important, as it can affect both workforce and business alike. The best approach to any recurring absence is patience. The employee may have good reasons for being off work, and getting to the bottom of their issues can be the first step towards helping them return as a productive member of the team.


By putting effective policies in place, and taking the time to help staff through problem times, you will not only be rewarded with a happier team but a loyal one too.