Employee Time Off – Things To Consider

When did "time off" change so dramatically? It used to be called holidays, and sickies for pretty much anything else!

When did ‘time off’ change so dramatically? It used to be called holidays, and sickies for pretty much anything else!

Nowadays we have sabbaticals, jury service, dependent leave, flexible working and much more. Long gone are the days of stay-at-home mums and men only in the workplace, in fact quite the reverse can now be true.

Today there is a much wider acceptance in the workplace of family life generally and an understanding that people do actually have interests outside of work. The UK  government introduced legislations like the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1996, and latterly the Work and Families Act 2006, to benefit families because of the large percentage of working mums, and others with caring responsibilities, both for the aged and those with health problems.

Many organisations allow time off through sabbaticals or career breaks, and then there is jury service, territorial service and other community services. In addition, and beneficial to both employer and employee, time off is needed for training and professional development.

So how do you manage all of this within the workplace? Here are some tips for the three areas we consider critical:

1. The costs

For a business, keeping track of time off, i.e. time away from the business for whatever reason, needs managing. Why? Because non-attendance impacts on business performance, on clients if work is not completed on time, on colleagues taking on extra responsibilities, and your finances if temporary staff are required to fill the gap of anyone who is away. Good record keeping will help you cost absence and there are tools that can help.

2. Good management

Managing attendance is a skill, and a manager who is positive about time off, ie, advises employees of their rights and treats them with compassion when needed, will benefit in return through employee loyalty. When we are valued, we will give what is known in HR terms, as ‘discretionary behaviour’ or going the extra mile.

Equally, the people not attending work for dubious reasons when others are relying on them must be treated firmly, and policies should be in place to assist with this process.

In one company, we found attendance improved by introducing a ‘self-managed’ team.

Everyone in the team worked together to learn how they could help their colleagues when they were away, whether in an emergency or on holiday. They arranged cover for absence between themselves and, because they knew their fellow workers were relying on them, understood the impact if they themselves were away.

3. People skills

If every organisation were to understand the cost of absence, they would take a stronger view on managing attendance. A big part of this is to develop your managers in good people management skills, so they can actively help make the workplace a better place for their employees to be and encourage an environment and atmosphere where they want to work and spend time.


Written By

Cecily Lalloo

Cecily Lalloo is a Chartered Member of the CIPD and HR specialist working with SMEs who do not have their own HR department or personnel. She puts in place good people management processes and procedures and provides advice through the whole employee lifecycle from recruitment to exit. She realises that today technology plays a big part in managing HR processes and helps her clients to make the best use of HR software, no matter what size the business.