Top Tips Managing Sporadic Sick Leave Absences

February 28, 2023

One of the top HR queries we receive from members is ‘how do I manage sporadic sick leave that occurs on a frequent basis?’. In this week’s article we give you some key tips on how to manage these sporadic sick leave absences.

A robust attendance policy and absence management process can be an effective means of managing absenteeism that allows for a smoother continuity of business services. It’s not just sufficient to have these policies in place, employees must be aware of such policies and procedures, and have access to these. There must be awareness amongst employees of the company expectations when reporting absences.

An absence/attendance policy should contain the following:

  • What is expected in terms of the notification of an employee’s absence, for example, who needs to be informed and when to notify, i.e., the manager needs to be contacted directly within half an hour of their scheduled starting time on the first day of absence.
  • The employee’s responsibility after reporting the absence, for example, they must keep the communication lines open in terms of their medical status and likely return date.
  • When and how often medical certs are required to be submitted.
  • The process involved when the employee returns to work, i.e., the requirement to meet with their manager/supervisor upon their return to work.
  • A clause which gives the employer the right to refer an employee for an independent medical assessment.
  • The Company’s sick pay scheme.

Managing sporadic sick leave

The most important part of managing sick leave effectively is that there is regular communication with the employee both during the absence and when they return to work. Return to work interviews should be carried out with employees once they return, these are another effective tool in managing absences. Dealing with absence is a multifaceted and sensitive process so it is essential that you listen carefully and objectively to the employee when they return to work.  It is important to remain open and compassionate to genuine cases of sick leave or to consider if there are other work-related issues that could be the root cause of their absenteeism.

In terms of managing the sporadic absences we recommend that you consider the following:

  • Has the employee an excessive amount of sick leave? Is there a pattern/trend emerging?
  • Are there any underlying issues within the workplace that is impacting their absenteeism?
  • Has the employee adhered to the Company’s absence/attendance policy?
  • Where there is a concern about the level or pattern of absence, this should be expressed to the employee.
  • Where excessive absence is an ongoing issue, the Company’s disciplinary procedure and its application to unacceptable absence should be explained to the employee.
  • Allow time for improvement and monitor their attendance.
  • If the issue continues take corrective action using the company disciplinary process and ensure everything is documented in writing.

Key takeaways

The most important advice we would offer our members is to keep records of absence, keep in regular contact with the employee and take corrective action when you have determined there is a problem. If the problem is ignored or left to fester it not only impacts the running of the business, but overall employee relations as other staff are often impacted. At the same time, it is important to remain open and sympathetic to genuine cases of sick leave or to consider if there are other work-related issues that could be the root cause of their absenteeism.


You can download the SFA’s sample documents to support the management of absence here. Ibec Academy are running a ‘Managing Absence’ course on 07 July 2023, and further information about this course can be found here.


If you have a query on absenteeism, please contact Fiona on 01 6051557 or