Renfrewshire Council

Changes to our managing absence and sickness policy

Our new policy for managing staff sickness and absence launched earlier this week. We met with our Head of People and Organisational Development, Marlene Boyd, to hear more about the changes and what this means for colleagues.

Marlene Boyd Hello Marlene, thanks for your time.

Hello, thanks for having me.

How we manage absence is changing, can you tell us more?

As you know, employee health and wellbeing will always be one of our top priorities. We want to nurture a safe, healthy, and inclusive workplace where all colleagues are respected as individuals and feel empowered to prioritise self-care and make positive, well-informed choices about their own lifestyle. 

We know there will be times when people can't work because of illness, and when this happens, our focus is on supporting them to come back to work as soon as possible.

We have reviewed and refreshed how we help manage that absence and set out what we expect from managers and colleagues.

Why is the policy changing?

Over the years we've implemented initiatives to improve wellbeing at work and help reduce absence levels. But we need to do more.

We need to do things differently to help minimise the impact of sickness absence on our services, on the communities we serve, our budgets - which are already under pressure, and our reputation, while recognising the impact of the recent pandemic and pressures of the increasing cost of living.

With this new policy, our focus shifts to providing support earlier, to ensuring all absences are managed fairly and consistently, while taking account of individual circumstances, and improving how we report and analyse our data.

We developed this in consultation with key stakeholders and it has been approved by the trade unions, Corporate Management Team and elected members.

What's changing?

If you are ill and unable to work, your manager will ask you to keep in touch with them more during the early days of your absence to help us understand how we can best support you.

We have also improved and simplified how to report absence on our ERP Business World system. There's now just one process for both short- and long-term absence and our absence review points are shorter and more consistent. There are also changes to annual leave and paid phased return to work guided by occupational health.

Are there any specific changes for managers?

Yes, our focus is on having more conversations early to help identify what support colleagues need and simplifying the processes required to manage that absence.

We've simplified the reporting and managing absence process on ERP Business World and set up additional alerts to prompt managers when they need to take action.

We developed managers guidance on our website, updated letters and forms on the intranet and shared a video for managers which explains the differences between our old Supporting Attendance Policy and this new Managing Absence Policy. My team are also currently working on new, comprehensive iLearn training which will be available in the next few months.

Where can colleagues find out more

The new Managing absence and sickness webpages have been designed to make it easy to get the information you'll need. There are 17 pages in total so lots of detail which I hope everyone finds useful. They cover topics including how to report sickness, returning to work, early support and adjustments we can offer, annual leave, sick pay and occupational health. You'll also find information about support for mental health, our employee assistance programme and general wellbeing.

Who can colleagues speak to for help and advice?

As ever, if you need additional support for applying any of our policies, the People and Organisational Development are here to answer any questions and provide assistance. Please don't hesitate to contact them and don't forget to speak to your line manager in the first instance.

Published on Thursday 07 March 2024

Return to our Staff info page for more of the latest news and stories and to acess key info about working at the council and taking care of your wellbeing.