The Official Definition

Eurofound, the EU Agency for the improvement of living and working conditions, provides the following internationally-accepted definition of absenteeism: ‘the manifestation of a decision by an employee not to present themselves at their place of work at a time when it is planned by management that they should be in attendance’.  A Eurofound study cites evolved HR policies as promoting good health and attendance, not penalising absence.

The Employer’s Definition

The first word most employers use when defining absence is not loss or inconvenience, but frustration.  And the Latin root of this word really brings home the problem with absence, because it derives from the word frustra, which means ‘in vain’, or ‘for nothing, to no purpose.’  No one wants any part of their business to be definable in this way.

So, instead of managing sick pay levels, let’s do what we’re paid to do, which is manage people.


Question: does your Company have Return to Work interviews with Employees who’ve been on sick leave?  If not, chances are you don’t have an Absence Management Policy.  And that’s probably costing the Company more than just money.

Absence Management (and let’s face it: more often than not we’re talking about Sickness Absence Management) is a considered and appropriate Management response to the issue of Absence in the Workplace.   It’s the effect of an agreed Absence Management Policy and its consistent application within the organisation.

Because when employees finally return to work, or return to work again, it does not mean that underlying problems, entirely unrelated to illness or unavoidable personal issues, have gone away.

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