Acas Releases Updated Guidance on Sickness Absence: What Employers Need to Know

News  |   11 August 2023

Written by
Lydia Button, Trainee Solicitor

Acas, the UK's independent advisory service on workplace relations, has released updated guidance on sickness absence

The guidance covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Checking holiday entitlement and sick pay
  • Fit notes and proof of sickness
  • Time off for dependants/parents
  • Returning to work after absence
  • Creating absence policies
  • Recording and reducing sickness absence
  • Absence trigger points

One of the key changes in the guidance is the new definition of sickness absence. Acas now defines sickness absence as any period of time when an employee is unable to work due to illness, injury, or other medical reason. This definition is wider than the previous definition, which only included periods of time when an employee was unable to work due to illness.

The updated guidance also includes new advice on fit notes (a document that is issued by a doctor to an employee who is sick). The fit note tells the employer what the employee is capable of doing and how much time they need off work. The updated guidance provides employers with more information about what to do when an employee receives a fit note.

The updated guidance also emphasises the importance of supporting employees who are returning to work after an absence. Employers should work with employees to create a phased return to work that is gradual and manageable. The guidance also provides employers with advice on how to manage stress and anxiety in the workplace, which can contribute to sickness absence.

Overall, the updated Acas guidance is a valuable resource for employers who want to manage sickness absence effectively in their workplace. Employers who follow the guidance can help to reduce the cost of sickness absence and improve the productivity of their workforce.

Here are some additional tips for employers on how to manage sickness absence effectively:

  • Have a clear and fair absence policy in place: The policy should set out the expectations for employees in terms of reporting sickness absence, providing proof of sickness, and returning to work after an absence.
  • Be supportive of employees who are sick: This includes providing them with the time off they need to recover, and offering them any support they may need, such as access to occupational health services.
  • Monitor sickness absence levels and identify any trends: This will help you to identify any problems and take steps to address them.
  • Take action to reduce sickness absence: This can be done by providing flexible working arrangements, offering health and wellbeing support, and managing stress.

By following these tips, employers can help to manage sickness absence in their workplace effectively.

Related Insights