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Managing Absenteeism

Published August 10, 2018 (last updated August 16, 2023) - Head of Operations

Managing Absenteeism

Absenteeism costs New Zealand businesses $1 billion every year. What are the causes, and more importantly, what can employers do about it?

What Is Absenteeism At Work?

When an employee is not present at work for a prolonged and habitual time during a normally scheduled work period, without warning or reason, this is considered absenteeism. This doesn’t include ‘excused absences’ such as annual leave, sick leave or medical appointments, family activities and emergencies, community service leave and more.

Where you suspect employee absenteeism, communication is vital and all attempts, whether they are successful contact or not, it must be documented.

What Are The Common Causes Of Absenteeism?

The issue of absenteeism is difficult to manage as it can be due to a number of reasons and may be an indication of something bigger going on in an employee’s life. Common causes can include:

  • Bullying and harassment
  • Burnout, stress and low morale
  • Childcare and eldercare
  • Mental or Physical illness
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Injuries
  • Job hunting

What Can You Do To Manage Absenteeism?

  • Create an official employee attendance policy, and enforce it consistently
  • Record employee absences, and document all attempts to contact absent employees
  • Reward and recognise engaged employees with high attendance
  • Address the situation upon the absent employee’s return and inform them of attendance expectations. Also let them know if their absence has triggered any disciplinary action. Again, document everything.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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