This year’s festive period is fast approaching, with HR facing a perfect storm of cold weather and Christmas parties. When combined, particularly in the era of Covid-19, these elements can create increased levels of absence within organisations, during times that are typically very busy.

In most cases, absences are unavoidable. Employees will naturally encounter illness from time to time, whether Covid-related or not, and there is also the possibility of them needing to care for ill dependents, such as children.

While the impact of absence on productivity can be frustrating for organisations, there is nothing that can be done to eradicate it completely. Instead, it is important to adopt the most effective approach towards managing it.

Using a HR management system like Breathe can go a long way in ensuring that sickness absence and holidays are documented correctly, which helps to reduce potential exposure to employment tribunal claims.

Using the Bradford Factor

Breathe produces a Bradford Factor score which can be useful for managing instances of excessive sickness absence.

The Bradford Factor is a formula calculated for each employee, showing the potential impact of their absence on the organisation. If the formula produces a high score, it is likely that the employee has taken frequent sickness absence, causing a larger impact on the organisation than someone with a lower score.

Traditionally, Bradford Factor scores are calculated manually, which can become a time-consuming process for HR. When using a HR management system like Breathe, this score is calculated automatically for each employee, making it increasingly simple to monitor absences.

Disabilities and dependents – Essential considerations

Having access to Bradford Factor scores is an effective way to trigger stages of your absence management process, while also providing a level playing field for employees.

Whether the scores are generated automatically or not, it should be noted that there are additional considerations for employers if they wish to avoid potential headaches later down the line. This relates to the impact of disabilities, or absences relating to dependents.

If you have employees with absence-causing disabilities, it is crucial that they are excluded from a Bradford Factor score. Likewise, all employees have a statutory right to take time off for dependents, and these instances should not be reflected in a Bradford Factor score.

If an employee takes excessive absence for the same recurring medical issue, their employer would be deemed to have knowledge of the issue, regardless of whether they have been told that it is a disability.

Therefore, it is important to be able to recognise instances where recurring medical issues are taking effect, allowing the employer to identify potential disabilities that may require reasonable adjustments.

By making absence data available to you instantly, HR management systems like Breathe are a valuable tool for monitoring patterns and supporting employees.

Managing grievances and avoiding claims

Without accurate evidence of absence and sickness records, it can be an uphill battle for employers if they are ever faced with a grievance, or even an employment tribunal claim relating to disability.

Being able to show that you have monitored these records at all stages is crucial for managing these situations correctly, along with having an external HR provider in place to assist with the avoidance of claims.

As with absence, holiday is another area which can lead to employment tribunal claims if not correctly recorded and managed. Unsurprisingly, an employment tribunal does not take kindly an employer’s defence if they do not have records to back up their argument, and this would apply to these areas.

In most claims relating to pay, the burden of proof is placed upon the employee, who must be able to show that something is owed. However, if it comes down to your word against the employee’s, a lack of records will be used against the employer, meaning the employee’s version of events could be preferred.

When using a system like Breathe, record keeping becomes a seamless process, which can prove valuable if faced with grievances or employment tribunal claims.

Furthermore, having all your employee data in one place is the easiest way to ensure that everyone is receiving their full holiday entitlement. This allows you to identify any employees who aren’t taking holiday which, as we have discussed in previous articles, can lead to dangerous instances of burnout.

We can help

If you are looking to use a HR management system to strengthen your approach to record-keeping, AHR Consultants can help. By starting a free 14-day trial of Breathe during December, you can receive 50% off your first 3 months of subscription, should you wish to continue using the system.

For more details and to enquire about a free trial, click here.

If you have an absence or holiday-related question for our HR and employment law team, call us today on 0345 076 2288 or complete the form below.