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Absence management initiative: Department of Industry

Unscheduled absence rates are shrinking at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, thanks to their Employee Safeguard Plan.

Communicating clear expectations regarding attendance and spending time with employees who take frequent, unexplained absences are key elements of this proactive initiative.
The results speak for themselves, with a drop in unscheduled absence rates from 13.5 days to 11.1 days in a two-year period. The success of return to work support for employees, has also led to significantly lower workers compensation premiums.

The Employee Safeguard Plan takes a multipronged approach. It incorporates strategic HR initiatives aimed at improving psychological safety for all employees, more workplace support options and improved manager capability.

The department has also strengthened support for employees managing long term critical illness, mental health and temporary illness. The support includes:

  • a new Health Safeguard program, bringing together initiatives such as psychosocial assessments, diversity initiatives, wellbeing programs and a mental health toolkit
  • a back to work interview pilot program
  • offering teleworking to help support employees managing mental health, short term caring responsibilities and temporary non-critical illness.

Managers are supported through a variety of channels in the lead up to, and during conversations with, high users of unscheduled absences. A high user is an employee with 15 days of unscheduled absence over a 12 month period and/or nine days of leave without medical evidence

Support options include:

  • HR case manager support
  • Regular and informal information sessions, focussing on case studies, real life scenarios, building rapport, early intervention strategies and ongoing communication
  • requesting medical evidence for every absence from high users.

If you would like more information on the Employee Safeguard Plan, please contact the Department's peoplestrategy [at] industry.gov.au (People Strategy team).