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Recurrent short term and unexplained absence

Frequent short-term unscheduled absence can indicate a lack of engagement. It can be particularly frustrating to plan around and is often disruptive to teams. It could signify an issue concerning one individual or a much larger issue across your team. The single most important factor is for managers to hold employees accountable and have honest discussions with the employees, particularly when the absence is recurring.

Spotting problems early will enable you to put the right support in place. To do this you'll need to:

  1. know your agency's policies and procedures regarding leave usage
  2. review the absence history of your employee regularly and look for any patterns
  3. discuss anything you notice with your employee to identify underlying causes
  4. discuss health and wellbeing and encourage the employee to be aware of looking after themselves physically and mentally.

The Department of Industry

The Department of Industry clearly defines what is considered a high user in accordance with their Enterprise Agreement. By setting and communicating agency expectations on absence and having targeted strategies, they have improved attendance rates by 18%. Find out what's been working for them here

What is a pattern of absence?

When reviewing your team's attendance levels, you may come across a situation where an employees' personal leave:

  • tends to occur at the start of a week or the end of a week
  • occurs on the same day(s) each week, or
  • coincides with significant events, such as a payday,  birthday or sporting event.

Discuss it directly with your employee and listen to what they have to say. Often, just having a conversation is enough to alert employees to the need for them to address any underlying causes or behaviour

Last reviewed: 
29 May 2018