Introduction to this document

Employee absence record form

The average employee in the private sector has around six days’ sickness absence each year; the ideal level for any employer is nil. Recording this type of absence in one place allows you to immediately identify how much time off an employee has taken due to ill health. It's also clear evidence if you need to take disciplinary action over this problem. Use our record form for this purpose. You can also use it to record other types of absence so that you are keeping all this information together.

Sickness absence problem

At any one time, 3% of the entire working population is away from work due to ill-health. In the private sector, the average employee has around six days’ sickness absence each year. So this is a massive problem for employers. By and large, the biggest problem they face is one or two-day "sickies" which are put down to temporary health conditions such as headaches, stomach bugs, or the mysterious "24-hour virus". However, research shows that these types of absence are often a cover for an underlying problem. For example, the employee in question may have an aversion to working Mondays or Fridays, or regularly take this type of leave around a public or bank holiday. It could also be due to personal reasons, such as problems with childcare, a relationship breakdown or stress.

But, whatever the root cause, sickness absence can cause severe disruption to your business, even if it's genuine. The easiest way to see whether a pattern or problem is emerging is by recording an employee's sickness absence and the reason for it in one place. This can be done using an Employee Absence Record Form. If the employee's time off has become excessive, or it starts falling at regular times, you can use this document to challenge them on their attendance rate.


Taking action 

It's important to remember that, at this stage, the employee is not subject to disciplinary action; you are merely investigating the cause of their repeated absences. For this reason, don't use aggressive questioning - you want to lull them into a false sense of security. Instead, ask "open questions"; these are likely to elicit a more detailed response. So suppose an employee is always absent around weekends, you could say to them: "Can you explain to me why you always take Mondays and/or Fridays off?". If they can't offer a plausible explanation, inform them that their current level of sickness absence is unacceptable and disciplinary action will commence if there's no quick improvement.  Once an employee knows you're watching them, they'll be less likely to abuse sick leave, but if it continues, don't hesitate to go down the formal route. 

Risk. When considering disciplinary action due to unacceptably high levels of sickness absence, you must disregard any ill-health that's linked directly to pregnancy or a disability. If you take these conditions into account when imposing a disciplinary sanction, there's a strong likelihood that you'll be landed with a discrimination-based tribunal claim.


Other absences

Our Employee Absence Record Form also allows you to record other absences from work, including unauthorised absence, maternity, paternity or adoption leave, parental leave, time off for family emergencies, medical or dental appointments, funeral attendance and other compassionate leave, jury service, time off for public duties, other authorised absence, etc. That way you can spot problems or patterns in the employee’s overall level of absence as the employee may try to use other non-sickness related reasons for not attending in order to try to hide a high absence record.