The term employee absence is such a broad term and refers to any instance where an employee isn’t at work when they might have been otherwise.

Indeed, it might surprise you just how many different types of absence exist. Some forms of absence are an essential part of running a business. Others can be disruptive if you don’t manage them correctly.

There are 3 different areas when it comes to absence; authorised, unplanned and unauthorised. All of which cover multiple different types of absence.

Now you may think that authorised absence is just holidays and unplanned absence is just sickness. There isn’t anything else to it. Yes, these are the two most popular forms of absence, however, if these are the only two types of absence you use when an employee is off, you are won’t be able to understand the reasons behind these absences.

By just using two absence types, you will never be able to help employees. How can you possibly know if an employee is off with stress, out at a conference or just working from home? By using multiple absence types, you will know exactly where your employees are and can help them if they need it.

In this post, we’ll explore the three different types of absence and all the different forms that come under these absence types.

Authorised absence

Authorised absence is where an employee is away from work due to a pre-agreed reason. The most common forms of authorised absence are:

  1. Annual leave – As we mentioned, annual leave is the most common type of authorised absence. We shouldn’t have to explain why a holiday is good for your employees and your business. Employees that work flat-out without taking breaks will never be the most productive members of your team. All work and no play can also make stress and burnout more likely, which can be very bad for business and negatively impact employee wellbeing.
  2. Maternity and paternity leave – You want to know that an employee isn’t just on holiday for 4 months, but off with a baby. Maternity, paternity and even parental leave are all types of authorised absence. You will generally know months in advance of this, allowing you to plan accordingly.
  3. Lieu hour – This type of absence is only applicable if you allow offer TOIL. For those that do, allowing employees to book time off and set it to ‘Lieu Hour’ or ‘TOIL’ will make reporting and tracking much easier.
  4. Public holidays – Even public holidays are a form of authorised absence. For businesses that shut down these days, they need to make it clear that employees aren’t required to come in. Not that many will forget anyway.
  5. Training days – It can be really helpful for employees to see where their colleagues are. Training days and conferences are two absences that you may not have thought were absences. They are still working during that day, but, are away from the office, therefore counts as an authorised absence.
  6. Working from home – Again very much like training days, working from home is another form of absence. Employees are away from the office, so setting them as ‘Working from home’ will let your staff know that they are still working and can be contacted if needed.
  7. Medical appointment – Medical or doctor appointments are again planned so come under authorised absence. They tend to only last a couple of hours with most employees not even asking employees to work extra time to cover the time lost.

 

authorised absence

 

Unplanned absence

An unplanned absence is where an employee is off work due to an unforeseen reason. Whether you’re dealing with a minor illness or a serious case of mental ill-health, the effect is the same: a blow to employee wellbeing, coupled with some costly business disruption!

Again, the most common form of unplanned absence is an illness. However, there are many more different types of unplanned absences that can affect your business. Being able to select different reasons for unplanned absence, will allow you to identify any trends and help employees better.

  1. Sickness –Whether it is a common cold, fever, migraine or stomach problems, any form of illness can be categorised as sickness.
  2. Injury – You may think that being injured is the same as being off sick, however, setting the absence to injured instead of off sick can help. If an employee is constantly off with a bad back, setting the absence as ‘Injured – Bad back’ will allow you to see if this is a common issue and advise accordingly.
  3. Stress – Stress can be a huge issue for businesses and managing stress accordingly can improve employee wellbeing.
  4. Mental ill-health – Stress is not the only form of mental health absence, with anxiety and depression being just two of the many forms. Stress and anxiety are completely different and need to be treated as such.
  5. Emergency leave – There will be times when an emergency arises, and employees will need to take a couple of hours or even the day off. These tend to be very last minute but tend to not cause a huge amount of problems.

 

Man calling in sick to work

Unauthorised absence

Unauthorised absence is where employees take time off work without letting you know, not necessarily because they’re suffering from ill health or injuries. Instead, they simply didn’t want to come to work that day. Isolated instances of unauthorised absence are annoying but manageable. But if it keeps happening, it might suggest that you have many serious issues to deal with than the odd lost day here and there.

  1. Unauthorised leave –  Not only do you run into all the same problems that you would have with unplanned absence – such as understaffing – you also have to deal with the possibility that your workers simply don’t respect you. Or worse, they find no satisfaction or fulfillment in their jobs. Because if they found their jobs fulfilling, they’d feel no need to skive!
  2. Lateness – Employees are contracted to set hours, so turning up 30 minutes every day can cause unrest. Not only does it mean they have less time to complete their work, but other employees may also feel annoyed at the fact they are constantly turning up late.

Each form of absence comes with its own set of challenges. But it’s easy to manage, so long as you’re adequately prepared. To help you manage unauthorised absence we have created a blog that you can read here: How to Manage Unauthorised Absence in the Workplace