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Why Do Leave Types Matter So Much

Managing staff absence has never been more important.

The pandemic has created a seismic shift in how work is organised and with a significant part of the working population still remote working, it is critical for employers to have a strong hand on staff absence and the reasons for it.

Authorised and Unauthorised Absence

This is the highest level distinction one could make between types of absence. If you are tracking anything, make sure that you have good records of unauthorised absence.

The principal reason for tracking unauthorised absence is to ensure that you meet your legal obligations should you wish to dismiss an employee for excessive unauthorised absence. To be clear, we are not at this stage talking about dismissals for lack of capability to do the job. Such a dismissal may arise where an employee has significant periods of authorised absence due to sickness.

By unauthorised absence, we refer to perennial lateness or simply not turning up to work. In these cases, you would look to dismiss an employee for (mis)conduct and to support such a dismissal you would need to have accurate records of the unauthorised absences.

Moving to more detailed leave types

Where you are already tracking unauthorised absence, it may make sense to begin holding more detailed records of employee absence or employee whereabouts. Being the trusting types that we are at Leavetrack, we don't mean tracking whereabouts for evil purposes. This is about ensuring that everyone knows where everyone is as a matter of good management. Not for the purposes of micro-managing your staff.

The leave types you track should align with how detailed you would like your records. Some of our customers only track paid annual leave and sick leave. Others track maternity, paternity and parental leave and "Have a day off - it's your birthday!" leave.

We would always recommend to track paid annual leave, especially if you are within the EU or another country where there is a right by law to paid time away. By tracking this, you will be keeping records to show that you have complied with your legal obligations under the relevant law. In the EU this would be national laws under the Working Time Directive.

We would also recommend tracking sick leave, whether paid or unpaid. As noted above, consistent absence on the grounds of sickness could give rise to an issue about the capability of the individual to perform their job. Incapability through sickness is one of the lawful grounds in the UK for terminating a contract of employment provided that you follow a fair process and give consideration to issues of disability.

As with unauthorised absence, any dismissal for capability would need to be supported by suitable evidence.

As noted above, our customers track a wide variety of leave types but one are we are seeing growth is in remote work.

Tracking Remote Work

Tracking remote work grew substantially during the pandemic and we continue to see customers recording this type of work. This serves two critical purposes:

1) Where there is a hybrid work model with some employees in the office and some remote, it ensures that colleagues know where each other are and whether or not there can be a face-to-face at the water cooler or do they need to chat on Slack.

2) Knowing when employees are in the office can help comply with local rules on COVID-secure working environments. Many locations have requirements for maximum occupancy, sanitation and contact tracing. Understanding who was in the office on what date is critical. It can also help with issues around desk booking and availability of resources for employees in the office.

Treat Absence Records Like Other Business Records

Having accurate, easily-accessible absence-related records should not be seen as a second-class issue for companies. They are fundamental to good HR management and practice and could protect your company at a later date should issues arise with employees relating to absence.
Posted by Robin on 26 May, 2021 in Employer Tips