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How to create an absence management policy

2 June 2023 6 min read

creating an absence management policy

Are you looking to create an absence management policy for your organisation, or update an existing one? Follow our handy guide on everything your absence management policy should cover.

What is an absence management policy?

An absence management policy is a document that outlines everything an employee and the employer are required to do in the case of absence from work. It includes who the employee reports to and when, when a fit note is required from a doctor, when and how communication between the employee and employer will take place, what measures are in place for returning to work, information on sick pay and how the employer keeps track of absences.

Why does my organisation need an absence management policy?

For small and larger organisations, having an absence management policy in place is both important and helpful to employees and the employer, for several reasons.

An absence management policy ensures that the correct steps are taken by both parties in the event of employee absence from work.

Occasional absences from work due to sickness are inevitable – the sickness absence rate in 2022 was 2.6%, the highest since 2004 – so in such an event, it’s helpful to follow a routine procedure to minimise disruption to work output and to the rest of your team.

Absence from work due to illness can come in many forms, including:

  • short-term illness (usually ranging from one day to a week)
  • reoccurring short-term absences due to illness
  • long-term illness that can last for several weeks or months


The bottom line for many employers comes down to work output and revenue – absence from work may cause deadlines to be missed, lead to unhappy clients and put an extra burden on healthy employees to cover workloads for anyone off sick.

How you manage these absences is key and having no absence management policy in place is a recipe for disaster, so it’s best to be prepared when employees do inevitably need to take some time off due to illness.

Having a suitable absence policy in place will be looked on favourably by your employees, too, as it can promote a positive workplace culture and allow for a more open conversation around taking time off to recover, particularly regarding mental health.

What should be included in an absence management policy?

Your absence management policy should include everything that your employee, and you, need to do and be aware of when someone in your team calls in sick.

creating an absence management policy

Make sure that all of the below points are outlined in a centralised document, and shared with all employees. If you make amendments to the policy at any time, remember to share these new changes with staff.

This should include:

  • how employees should report absences (such as by phone or email), who they need to contact and by when
  • how and when to keep in touch if the employee is off for more than a day
  • how the employer manages absence and leave tracking, and if they hold any reviews and when
  • whether the employer sets any ‘trigger points’ regarding leave – i.e., monitoring patterns of recurring sickness leave
  • how much sick pay the employee will receive and for how long
  • what happens if someone needs time off for reasons related to a disability
  • what, if any, practices are in place for employees returning to work – such as conversations with their line manager to check in on their wellbeing.


Ensuring that employers and line managers adhere to your absence management policy will help to keep track of absence and leave in your organisation more efficiently – and help to improve your employees’ wellbeing in the process.

Our intelligent edays absence and leave tracking software makes it easy to manage your team’s annual leave, sickness leave and all other types of planned and unplanned absences.

Find out more about edays by booking a demo here

Georgina at edays
June 2, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.