ACAS has published advice on absence review points. Some organisations have absence policies that set automatic triggers to review absence. They’re sometimes called ‘trigger points’ or ‘review points’.
There are no legal rules about how or when absence should be reviewed. It depends on what works for an organisation.
Review point systems are usually based on either:
- the number of absences an employee has within a certain time period
- the length of an employee’s absence
A review point system can be an effective way to help manage absence in an organisation. However, employers should be flexible and sensitive to individual circumstances.
If an employer uses a review point system, they should set this out clearly in an absence policy.
They should make clear:
- what the review points are
- the process for flagging up that an employee has reached a review point
- that reaching a review point will start an absence review
An employer should not use review points to automatically trigger disciplinary action for absence.
If employees view the system as a way to punish them, this could cause more absence. For example, employees might try to come back to work too early when they’re unwell, to avoid reaching a review point.
An absence review is an opportunity for an employer to look into the cause of an employee’s absence and decide if further steps are needed.
The employer should have a conversation with the employee to:
- check on their wellbeing
- discuss the reasons for their absence
- see how the employer can support them
When reviewing an employee’s absence, an employer should follow any relevant policy their organisation has.
They should consider whether:
- they should refer the employee to occupational health
- the absence might be disability-related – the employer should consider what reasonable adjustments they could make to help the employee
- the absence is related to pregnancy or mental health – in these cases they might need to take a different approach
- the employee might be entitled to time off for dependants, if the absence is because of an emergency relating to someone that depends on themZany of the absence was caused by work, such as an accident or work-related stress
- they should offer more flexible ways of working, if the absence is because the employee is struggling to balance work and home life
- they believe the reason for the absence is genuine – if not, they might need to deal with it as a misconduct issue
This provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.