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Promote and support your agency’s attendance expectations

Your role is to help the employee to maintain a connection with the workplace, ensure their work is progressed while they're away, and minimise any impact on team productivity.

When employees call, text or email to let you know they're not able to attend work, you should always find out:

  • Why they're not able to come to work

  • How long they're likely to be away for

  • If anything needs to be progressed at work while they're away

A clear communicated procedure for what happens when someone calls in sick helps to avoid any misunderstandings and enables you to get the information you need. It is important to record absences and their reason so you can identify any patterns.

  • Record the information in a personal spreadsheet
  • Speak with your HR area to see if the data can be extracted easily

Listening and reserving judgement is critical. When you are busy, the importance of listening can sometimes be overlooked. If this was you ringing in sick, how would you feel? What would you want your manager to say?

If the employee is going to be off for more than a day:

  • Discuss how you will keep in touch, and who will make contact
  • This is an opportunity to discuss options for their date of return
  • Consider what support you can offer

For employees who take continuous absences:

  • Make sure you receive a medical certificate explaining the employee’s absence and expected duration
  • Reassure the employee that their workload will be covered, and delegate the work to other employees where appropriate
  • Where applicable, seek advice on the condition affecting your employee, and support from groups such as Employee Assistance Program
  • Plan for the employee’s return to work, make reasonable adjustments, and identify options if they’re unable to return to their original role or work environment

Know your agency’s conditions, policies, entitlements and guidance material

These typically include your agency’s Enterprise Agreement, the Fair Work Act 2009, flexible working arrangement policies and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Your agency should have these policies on its intranet, if you can’t find or access them contact HR.

Understand flexible working arrangements and reasonable adjustments

Flexible working arrangements allow employees to balance family, health, injury, caring and interests alongside their work commitments and career goals.

Flexible working arrangements include initiatives such as:

  • flex time
  • time off in lieu
  • part time work
  • home based work
  • telework
  • job sharing

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 outlines an agency’s responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments for employees with disability to allow them to participate in the workplace on an equal basis. As a manager, if you do not allow for reasonable adjustments to be made, you may be exposing your agency to legal liability.

Guidance around adjustments for persons with disability can be found at https://www.apsc.gov.au/disability.

Common types of reasonable or workplace adjustments can include:

  • Providing additional training or mentoring
  • Re-organising work as necessary
  • Providing IT solutions as required such as voice activated software or ergonomic equipment