UK Employment Law and Absenteeism Management

Introduction

“Every executive, every manager, to fulfill the role, must have a vision – a vision of where the organization will be and what it will look like in the future. They must create that vision and then share it with those reporting to them, if they are to gain a high level of employee involvement and commitment and attain a high level of productivity” (Coughlin, 2005, n.p).

Making a business successful is the most important goal of any businessperson or employer. At the workplace there are a number of things to be maintained. This includes the environment, the facilities to the employees, good salary packages, and bonuses as rewards to get the output from them at a maximum level and so on. But besides these elements there exist some other important issues, which are of equal importance in the workplace, and neglecting such issues can cause decline in output and working efficiency of the employee. Some of these problems may include the absenteeism of employees and it’s tackling, bullying at the workplace, active labor groups creating tension etc.

HR department of any organization tackles these major tasks. Hence the HR manager is mainly under pressure to solve thee problems and to maintain the working environment. Almost all the HR managers are most often to find the solution of absenteeism of employees at the workplace. The other issues as mentioned above are also important but they are beyond the scope of this paper. In our literature review we will mainly discuss the problem of employees’ absenteeism at the workplace and the laws in UK for this act in addition to this we will have a look on the critical part of this issue that is are the laws of absenteeism working to make the business successful?

It is obvious that mostly employees are absent from work due to genuine reasons. These reasons might be any sickness, injury, accident, stress, family problems etc and all organizations faces these problems no matter the person is deceiving or truly explaining his/her problem. The excuse is always valid to have a day or a week or a month off from work. The absenteeism problem is much serious than others because when a single employee is off from his work the entire burden is shifted to the other people on the job and the efficiency of the given task, which is completed by someone else other than him, is not the same as he can do.

There have been a number of researches conducted on this issue and different conclusions have been drawn regarding this topic. One most common reason found on many employees is stress. When a person is so stressed from working environment that he/she is fed up at that moment he/she finds escape from the workplace and the absenteeism matter arise. Therefore the employee looks for some better excuse that openly explaining stress as the reason for having sometime off. Secondly, the researchers observed that being neglected at the workplace i.e. no rewards or appreciation can also cause lack of interest in job and can reduce the working efficiency of the employee and continuous neglecting leads to low self-esteem, which urges them to ask for some time off from work. (How to reduce absenteeism, n.p).

Thirdly, sometimes lack of proper training specially to those employees who are working with heavy machinery etc can gradually cause internal injury which is not visible currently but in longer terms can cause serious adverse affects on the employee resulting a long absenteeism from job and if not taken into notice lawful illness due to work stress can take the firm to court and bear heavy fine. (Dave Ericson, n.p, n.d) Besides, physical absenteeism there is quasi-absenteeism at work. This absenteeism means being absent minded or not fully focused at a given task. This type of absenteeism may be due to smoking or drinking habit, or due to family problems. (Dave Ericson, n.p, n.d)

The problems like stress and neglecting come from the employer’s side. Too much work burden, no communication with the employees, looking down upon to them, humiliating and treating like machines without realizing their situation results in absenteeism. Usually the absenteeism problem is tackled through policies made by every organization for its employees and the employees are restricted by the rules in any case. These policies or laws tend to be so strict and harsh sometimes that they badly affect an individual, neglecting all the assiociation, hard work, dedication and profit he/she might have given to the organization in past.

We will discuss the presence and absence, both of a policy in any company, since the topic mainly focuses on the UK employment law with respect to absenteeism management therefore, lets take a look on a condition when absenteeism problem can be solved without law implementation and then we will look on a condition when this problem needs a law to be solved. (How to reduce absenteeism, n.p.n.d)

The absenteeism management no matter due to any reason can be done through the following ways:

Modifying the working environment

Environment though any, house or workplace counts a lot in a person’s life. No one prefers a messy, dirty, indiscipline place to stay. Facilities like good furniture, useful equipment, cafeteria and tea break, safety measures in the office buildings etc makes the employee feel comfortable to work in. (How to reduce absenteeism, n.p, n.d).

Rewards and bonuses

It is human psychology that whenever, there is some hope of reward in return to any effort the output produced is maximum. Rewards at workplace plays a vital role in employees performance, these rewards may include bonuses in addition to salary at Christmas times or taking loans for longer period of time. On the other hand incentives may include having a half-day, granting some cash payment on sickness etc. all of these can reduce absenteeism to a greater extent.. (How to reduce absenteeism, n.p, n.d)

Minimizing communication gap

Many a times it happens, at work places employee’s faces bullying from other employees and just to avoid any tension or agony they may go to a leave or give a gap from their job. They do not inform their authorities due to lack of communication. If there is proper counseling and communication between the employees and their bosses, employees can comfortably share any such problem like harassment and absenteeism can be reduced.. (How to reduce absenteeism, n.p).

These were some of the ways that absenteeism problem can be solved without applying any tight policy at workplace but still laws and policies have their own significance and we cannot avoid them anywhere.

DEF: “A policy that provides guidance within an organization about how to manage the state of chronic absence from work. Absenteeism is usually addressed through progressively stricter disciplinary measures that can result in the termination of the individual’s employment. This is generally governed by the organization’s attendance policy”. (About.com:Susan M. Heathfield, n.p, n.d)

The employment policy as referred by the House of Lords to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) abide the employees by the following rules:

  • Those employees who have already taken sick leave will not be able to apply for annual leave.
  • Under UK employment an employer can dismiss his employee any time with no restriction if the reason for termination is valid and fair. Although there are certain cases when the employee is innocent and still he/she is terminated. The conditions where employer is allowed to take an action are:
    • Incapability of the employee in his/her job: if any employee is less capable in terms of education, efficiency or producing the desired output, he delays work and has no good past records of fulfilling the given tasks on time, theft, misbehavior, bullying others and most prominently absenteeism, then the employer has full right to terminate him/her from job.
    • The basic policy aims that the employee can take emergency time per pay period i.e. employees can talk to their bosses for emergency leave up to 60 minutes from the start of their job. But not more than 60 minutes. But if this absence is for number of days and consecutive without any message it can be regarded as voluntary leave.
    • In cases specially when employees are appointed to work on hourly basis they can get short leave for doctor’s appointment, parents teacher’s meeting, home repairing etc but only if other employees are not burdened with the workflow of the absentee.
    • It is not allowed to include emergency personal hours of the current year into the next year if not taken presently. (About.com:Susan M. Heathfield, n.p,n.d)
    • Whenever possible during job any employee who has missed the time of work due to any reason can compensate it through working overtime on other days. He has to inform his/her boss for permission. (About.com:Susan M. Heathfield, n.p, n.d)

These were some of the main points of absenteeism policy. However, they restrict the employees but still we can see a number of leniencies at many places. These policies are not only in interest of employers but employees as well.

Critical analysis of the Literature Review

Absenteeism if continuous and random i.e. anytime can be dangerous for any business. Thus to avoid such serious problem managers and firms usually adopt policies. Policies work as a supporting tool to minimize disturbance in business, increase profit and efficiency of employees and to maintain discipline. If you closely observe the professional life where everyone is given some goal to accomplish and each individual is responsible for some task, we will come to know that there are still a number of people who although have talents but behaves a bit carelessly. Coming at work late even 10 minutes late can make a difference in efficiency and generating revenues.

Therefore, policies are made and implemented, so that employees must be treated fairly and producers can get their desired output. Comparing an environment of a working place where there is no policy any rules with an environment where certain bounding on the employees have been made clarify the picture in a more broader view. Policies are important because:

  1. These policies maintain a record of missed work time by the employees, which can be later overcome.
  2. Policies so designed appreciate the employees to work efficient and punctual.
  3. Termination policies are however harsh but still they have some criteria and they maintain a fear factor for those who actually think negative and can be involved in crimes at workplace.
  4. These policies divide the employees into certain categories so as to protect the rights of employees belonging to each category. They can be exempt as well as non-exempt. Exempt employees work on hourly basis and are paid for overtime while non-exempt are those who depends on their nature of job and designation for any leniency or reward. This procedure can only be practiced by a proper employment policy.
  5. In addition to all other things a finely designed employment policy never terminates the employee without warnings, warnings may be written, spoken etc. on the contrary a policy free environment can be so insecure that the boss may anytime terminate the employee without giving notice in advance. (Murad Ali, May 22, 2007, n.p)
  6. The major use or most important feature of absenteeism policy is that it treats all the employees fairly. The rights are protected and employee is warned before any serious action. The goods are rewarded and bad are taken in to notice. The over all business environments is under controlled and profit is obviously maximized.
  7. Absenteeism can also be tackled without policies by providing good environment, incentives, rewards and minimizing communication gap but still this fact cannot be neglected that wherever there is freedom and leniency there exist its misuse as well.
  8. Law implementation at workplace is in best interest of employees the employees are not only instructed to work in a disciplined environment but also any sort of misbehavior from other employee even, immediate bosses can be reported and action according to the law can be taken to do justice. Even sometimes if injustice is done with any employee he/she has right to file case in court and get compensation against the injustice. (Ali, 2007,n.p)

Conclusion

Employment laws in today’s world are being used all over the world. In any business where the factors of production, entrepreneur, land, labor, and capital are the most important ingredients, the infrastructure needs some rules and laws as well. In this paper we discuss specifically the UK employment laws. Its needs and importance with respect to absenteeism in particular, the solution to absenteeism problem through law and without law, we also compare the differences and try to find out whether the policies and laws as restricted maximize profit and are key to successful business or not. Hence we have concluded that any business large, small or medium can not run properly if there are no laws and rules.

To keep control and to get the maximum required profit it is necessary to implement some policies. These policies however are not only benefiting businessmen but also the employees. On the other hand, a policy free environment is discipline free environment. The basic objective of this paper is to highlight the impact of absenteeism on business and to discuss the importance of absenteeism policies in success factor of any business.

Thus, all the above research concludes to the fact that the absenteeism policies provide a flexible and more convenient method of judging and rewarding the employees. Also, these policies contribute to minimize loss risk, maximize profit and output by the employees. And last but not the least, the answer to the research question is: Yes these policies play a vital role in the business success!!

References

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Sample Hourly Employee Attendance Policy,(n.p). Web.

About.Com :Human resource management,Definition of absemteeism policy,(n.p). Web.

Warren Coughlin. LAW PRACTICE TODAY, Your Law Firm: A Vehicle for Entrepreneurial Success,(n.p). Web.

Murad Ali, BIZCOVERING, Attendance and Punctuality Cost Companies Big Money,(n.p). Web.

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Introduction to Attendance Management,(n.p). Web.

P.A. Neena Gupta, HRM GUIDE, Ontario Employment Law, (n.p). Web.

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Where are they? Addressing the issues of staff absenteeism,(n.p). Web.