Managing short term absences in the workplace is an essential aspect of maintaining productivity and employee wellbeing. It involves ensuring that employees who are unable to attend work due to illness or injury receive appropriate support and that their absence is managed in a way that minimises the impact on the business. By establishing clear policies, maintaining communication, offering support, and addressing underlying causes, employers can effectively manage short term absences in the workplace.

Below are a “How to Guide” on managing short term absences in your workplace:

Reporting Absences

Ensure that you have created a policy on absence management and that your employees have access to this, so they know the procedure.

It is good practice to ensure that employees talk to their line manager when phoning in to report their absence. An employee who is not really ill will find it easier to talk to a colleague and ask for a message to be passed on rather than speak to their line manager, who might question the employee more rigorously. Your organisation’s absence reporting procedures should specify this.

Recording Absences

What exact information is recorded will be specific to each organisation. Best practice suggests key areas to monitor and record for the most effective results. Use of a rolling period of time, for example, a 13-week time period is most typical.

Actively looking at individual employee performance within this short time allows the organisation to identify any problems quickly and resolve any potential problems before they become major issues. Within a 13-week period, the patterns to be looked for include, but are not limited to:

  • two or more single days of absence
  • two or more Fridays or Mondays of unauthorised absence
  • two or more instances of absence on the first or last day of a shift
  • two or more instances of absence on the day before or after a holiday
  • any combination of the above.

Investigating Absences

Trying to establish whether an employee is malingering can pose problems for organisations. Organisations should carry out full and fair investigations before raising the issue with an employee.


The first procedure in all situations where absence is causing you concern, should be a Return to Work’ interview.

It is important that all personnel dealing with employees’ problems are supportive and communicative.

Key Roles

Management is primarily responsible for managing levels of absence. Supervisors, managers, appointed medical practitioners, and Human Resources are some of the key individuals with various responsibilities in absence control.

Appointed Medical Practitioners

A Company’s doctors can provide invaluable assistance in examining employees with prolonged or repeated absence problems. They can identify the root cause of the problem if any and report the status back to the relevant manager or HR. Patterns of absence may be due to behavioural issues where the employee is not aware that his/her record has become an issue. On the other hand, there may be underlying problems, e.g., alcohol or substance abuse or personal problems that are causing the absence and for which the employee needs help. The organisation doctor can refer the employee for appropriate assistance while notifying the organisation that the problem is at hand and giving an expected date for improvement.

Sick Leave

full-time and part-time employees are entitled to three days, of sick pay per year. This will rise to five working days in 2024, seven days in 2025 and 10 in 2026. It will initially be paid at 70% of regular earnings up to €110 per day, from the first day of illness.


For any more assistance and support with any type of absence, please get in touch with Core Resource on 087 7743205 /