Establishing a policy on absenteeism

The absence of workers due to illness is not only a costly affair. It also signals that the overall well-being of employees within the organisation is less than optimal. A preventive attendance policy or a well-thought-out policy on absenteeism will help resolve this problem.


Only 1 in 3 companies have procedures and policies in place that address the problem of worker absenteeism. And of those companies, only 33% have formulated a clear mission and vision on absenteeism, which is crucial in trying to minimise preventable absenteeism. Preventable absenteeism includes all forms of worker absenteeism that can be positively impacted by the employer through preventive measures that have a discouraging effect.

Establishing a policy on absenteeism first is essential if you want to implement these kind of measures. Combined with targeted action, having such a policy in place can help prevent worker absenteeism and reduce the duration of each absence. At the same time, it will lead to a reduction in associated expenses and to a more positive work environment. Creating the best possible work environment for your staff also ensures a greater level of motivation and commitment, greater productivity and a good corporate image.

Mensura will advise you

A successful policy on absenteeism begins with a clear organisation-wide set of agreements with employees, and mutual trust. It should include a strategic approach towards creating and maintaining better health for all your employees. The following items should be covered:

  • your vision on the importance of improving health and well-being among your workforce. What is the overall objective? What is the target percentage of absenteeism? What are the various roles and responsibilities within your organisation in the field of employee health management?
  • prevention: the policy must focus on the prevention of illness-related absenteeism and on improving attendance among motivated, productive workers. By investing in prevention and well-being, you can help prevent absenteeism caused by poor working conditions, excessive workloads, a negative work environment or psychosocial problems.  
  • regular checks and monitoring: make sure to establish effective monitoring procedures. Analyses based on figures from independent audits by occupational health physicians will provide you with more insight into the causes of absenteeism and will highlight areas for improvement.
  • procedures: clear procedures on calling in sick will impact the decision of employees to stay at home or go to work. If the threshold to stay at home is low, employees will call in sick more easily. The same applies when there is no real medical reason for taking unplanned leave. Well-thought-out procedures offer clarity and add structure to the policy.
  • communication and guidance: how do you communicate about workers’ health and absenteeism within your organisation? Clear communication and the training of workers and supervisors will help anchor the policy in the organisation.


  • A clear and definite link between the employee wellbeing and prevention policies within your organisation and its approach towards absenteeism. Use the legally allocated budget to achieve measurable results that will reduce costs associated with absenteeism at the same time.  
  • A targeted and systemic approach towards absenteeism that leads to long-lasting results.

Training for supervisors and managers

The problem of absenteeism is not just a matter for the HR department, but for all supervisors and managers throughout the organisation. Specific skills and thorough insight in the ubiquitous problem of worker absence are required to engage in a constructive dialogue with team members on this sensitive topic. Training on the legal aspects and the improvement of skills among supervisors and managers is also available.

Training courses on worker absenteeism

Training course: Illness-related absenteeism: Do's and don’ts
Training course: Return-to-work interviews