5 questions HR needs to ask itself about absence management this year

Absence management is always a key responsibility for HR and line managers, but it’s likely to need extra attention this year. The UK is doing well with COVID-19 vaccinations, but holidays are still very much up in the air, and as we’ve all learned over the last 12+ months, things can change direction very quickly. To maintain business agility, HR needs to stay on the front foot with absence management, considering people’s needs and different resourcing scenarios.

absence management app mobile

Do you know what your business leaders’ plans are for your organisation for the rest of the year?

Good absence management relies on an understanding of resourcing needs. So, staying close to your business leaders is crucial when plans for the organisation might be constantly changing and adapting due to COVID-19.

  • If your business intends to operate for longer hours this year to try to recover from COVID-19 – for example, the retail sector has been given the greenlight to do this – are you ready to work with your line managers to adjust how they manage absence within their teams to meet increased staffing demands?
  • If your board decides to change your organisation’s service offering at short notice to take advantage of a new opportunity that comes up as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, will you know about it quickly enough to help managers and teams accommodate new demands?

Do you have an up-to-date plan for a skeleton staff for your business?

An exercise that would be useful for HR and managers to undertake now is to determine what a skeleton staff would look like for your business. You may have done this in the past, but things have no doubt changed over the past year.

  • What’s the minimum headcount that you can continue operating with, and how does this number break down by department?

Sharing this information with line managers will help your business make intelligent absence decisions so you’re not left short staffed.

Could you be fairer/more flexible about approving absence requests and carryover allocations?

In our article: ‘Why HR needs to get on top of holiday absence management now’, we discuss considerations for HR and line managers in order to manage absence fairly. We also highlight the recent carryover rule changes in light of COVID-19.

As the year goes on, some staff members might continue to be reluctant to book leave due to travel uncertainties, and others might want to hold off due to higher-than-normal workloads that they wish to prioritise over holidays.

  • Are you allowing the carryover of the statutory minimum that the Government has temporarily allowed – and if not, should you? What will be the implications for resourcing in future years/managing the catch up?

Please note: How much leave can be carried over will depend on when your holiday year starts, what regulation the leave comes under, and whether it is statutory or non-statutory leave. Please find further information at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

What will you do if staff want to holiday overseas and/or in higher COVID-19 risk areas?

HR and line managers also need to think about if/how they’ll approach the situation if staff want to take overseas holidays (and/or holidays to places with greater COVID-19 risks than where the business/workforce is located).

  • Will you try to provide advice to your workforce about safe holiday options?
  • What will you do if someone chooses to holiday somewhere that then necessitates unexpected quarantining?
  • Can you accommodate people needing to work from home – and potentially at short notice – to quarantine, or will it leave you short staffed?
  • And do holidays outside the local area add extra COVID-19 risks to your workforce and customers that you consider unacceptable?

HR may wish to start raising these questions with senior management now so they can communicate with their workforce where the business stands in relation to holidays and what the expectations will be.

Is your HR software up to the challenge of managing and communicating about absence?

To manage absence requests and approvals, and communications around absence expectations and processes, HR professionals need comprehensive absence management software.

Cezanne HR’s Absence Management module allows all employees to see their holiday balances and submit requests for leave. Managers can then easily and immediately approve or deny the leave as required.

HR can also use Cezanne HR to communicate absence management policies, emailing links to policy documents as needed. If acknowledgement is required, Cezanne HR offers e-signature functionality that employees can use to show they’ve read/agreed to the policy. HR can also communicate with staff about general absence updates via a Cezanne HR Workspace, or SMS – choosing the medium/s that best suit the business and situation.

To find out more about how Cezanne HR can help you with absence management, please book a personal demonstration of the system with us.


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