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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Managing sickness absence

Mike Broughton (HR Partner and Advisory Team Leader), Amanda Herrity (HR Deputy Director) and Corryn Brown (Organisational Wellbeing Manager) explain why it is important to actively manage sickness absence.

We want line managers to feel supported and confident when supporting staff during periods of ill-health and absence from work. This toolkit aims to provide line managers with useful guidance to improve confidence to support employees affected by ill health when they require time off work.

This toolkit provides key information to line managers and staff on:

  • How to record sickness absences
  • Practical guidance about how to effectively support staff when they are off sick
  • Guidance about how to actively manage sickness absence in line with the sickness absence policy.
  • Guidance on how to support staff to return to work.

Mike Broughton (HR Partner and Advisory Team Leader), Amanda Herrity (HR Deputy Director) and Corryn Brown (Organisational Wellbeing Manager) provide advice to managers about how they can actively manage absence.

Short-term sickness is inevitable during an employee’s life cycle. Minor illnesses and life pressures happen, and a short period of time off is sometimes required to recover when unwell, to prevent risk of long-term sickness or chronic illness.

Short-term sickness absence is an absence that lasts less than 28 calendar days. The member of staff can self-certify for the first seven days. Any sickness that lasts longer than 7 days requires a fit note from their GP.

When staff call in sick
Frequent and recurrent sickness absence
If absences do not improve with support

Mike Broughton (HR Partner and Advisory Team Leader), Amanda Herrity (HR Deputy Director) and Corryn Brown (Organisational Wellbeing Manager) provide some guidance and advice on whether managers should be in contact with their staff when they are off sick.

Mike Broughton (HR Partner and Advisory Team Leader), Amanda Herrity (HR Deputy Director), and Corryn Brown (Organisational Wellbeing Manager) explain how to actively and supportively manage absence formally under the absence policy when absence triggers have been reached.

There are times when staff will experience chronic illness, acute illness or life pressures that cause them ill-health and when a period off work is required. There is a range of evidence and research that indicates being off work long-term can be detrimental to staff wellbeing, and so It is important that long-term absences are actively managed and staff are supported while off work to promote a sustainable return to work, when appropriate and at the earliest opportunity.

Long-term sickness absence is any absence that lasts longer than 28 calendar days. A fit note from a GP is required for any absence lasting more than seven days.

Refer and signpost to support
Keep in contact
Managing workload and support your team
Actively manage long-term sickness
Mental Health
Pregnancy-related sickness absence
Disability/long-term health condition

Wellbeing support and counselling – Staff can self-refer to Employee Assistance Programme 24/7 through the advice line, or can download the WISDOM app, to book an appointment.

Occupational Health referral – You can download a referral to occupational health online. And email it to

TRiM assessment – If a staff member has experienced a traumatic incident, they can be referred for a TRiM assessment by emailing A referral can be made for specialist trauma support if required after the assessment.

Caring for carers network – Staff can request to be added to the caring for carers network and get more information on when it is taking place by emailing

Flexible working and reasonable adjustments – Policies regarding flexible working can be found on the HR wiki page, but if you require advice on reasonable adjustments and flexible working requests, please email

Positive steps Programme – a referral to the positive steps programme can be made by occupational health if this has been identified as something that could benefit the staff member. Find more information on the positive steps programme.

Coaching – Coaching can support staff with various work-related and personal challenges. There are online self-led coaching modules available, or staff can apply to be allocated a coach to support them with a range of personal goals to help their mindset. Download an application form.

Mental health crisis

If you have concerns that a member of staff may be in crisis with their mental health and you are concerned they may be an imminent risk to themselves, you can contact or call Ext 4836 to speak to a member of HR who can arrange for risk assessment to be carried out to get the member of staff the required support as urgently as needed. If the staff member is off-site and you have serious concerns for their welfare, contact 999 and the HR advisory team.

Mike Broughton (HR Partner and Advisor Team Leader), Amanda Herrity (HR Deputy Director), and Corryn Brown (Organisational Wellbeing Manager) provide guidance the return to work process and why it is important to actively support staff on their return to work following sickness.

Research has indicated that being in work can be good for health and that sustainable return to work should be supported. To support returning to work following sickness absence, you should:

  • Keep in touch with the employee while they are off sick to provide support and help to reduce anxiety about returning to work
  • Reasonable adjustments recommended by occupational health should be reviewed and if considered reasonable, they should be implemented as soon as possible to support them during their return. Some adjustments may need to remain in place once they have returned to help them stay at work. For further advice and guidance on reasonable adjustments contact
  • Support from colleagues can be a key element of supporting staff back into the workplace; ensuring colleagues are aware the member of staff is returning and what reasonable adjustments are in place to support them may be helpful, as well as ensuring they can offer support. This increases the likelihood the member of staff adapts back into the work environment.
  • Regular reviews with the member of staff to check that they feel supported and are settling back into work and managing their work ok is essential, and any reasonable adjustments and support can be reviewed during these review meetings
  • Referral and signpost to support that may help the individual with any ongoing issues to ensure they feel supported.

Return-to-work interviews should occur on their first day back to ensure any initial support or reasonable adjustments can be reviewed and discussed. The return to work should be recorded on My View.

Please note that recording the return to work meeting on My View does not automatically close the absence on My View. Closing the absence requires a separate step, further guidance on how to record and close an absence can be found on My View.

Useful links

Employee Assistance Programme – Wellbeing Solutions

Our Employee Assistance Programme provider Wellbeing Solutions provide confidential support including counselling, legal and financial advice, as well as a range of resources to promote positive lifestyle and wellbeing. Visit Employee Assistance online for counselling and advice. The login code is: EdgeHill

Alternatively, staff can download their app, which allows them to book appointments and make contact confidentially through the app. Alternatively, they can be contacted by phone on 0800 328 1437.

Edge Hill sickness absence guidance and policies

Sickness Absence policy

Guidance for Absence reporting

Absence FAQs

OH Manager referral form

Information and application for coaching and mentoring

Flexible working policy

Special and compassionate leave policy

Supporting staff affected by cancer

Positive steps programme

Risk assessments

Risk and COSHH assessments

Stress risk assessment

External websites and links

For more information on how cancer can affect people at work Macmillan cancer support have put together information and guidance

Work and cancer | Macmillan Cancer Support

For useful information on supporting staff with a range of health issues Healthy working lives have put together some information and guidance for employers

Ill health and absence – Healthy Working Lives