Self Certification

17/05/2016 Talking to employers about sickness absence, whether it is long term or short term, is a common topic of conversation.  Advice is usually sought once an absence has become long term or there are excessive short term absences.

So many employers do not realise the value in keeping records of all unplanned absences from work.  I always emphasise the importance of making sure employees complete a Self Certification form (Self Cert) when they return from every sickness absence irrespective of how long the absence was for. 

Self Certs are a formal declaration from an employee that they were unfit for work and the nature of their illness.

These forms should also show the days and dates the employee was unfit to attend work, ideally a declaration that they are fit to work and should always be signed by the individual.

By keeping accurate records will help identify patterns on whether there may be an underlying medical condition or an illness occurs on certain days (for example, on the same day of the week or tagged onto a weekend or a holiday - yes this does happen!).

By monitoring attendance and keeping accurate records enables an employer to easily identify and address areas of concern.  This may be as simple as having a quiet word or recognising the benefit of referring an employee to Occupational Health.

Requiring employees to complete a Self Cert also sends a message that you are monitoring absence. This in itself can reduce absence.

One final recommendation is to act on absence sooner rather than later. For long term absence, don't wait 6 months before making an enquiry. We would recommend reviewing any long term absence (and possibly starting to get medical reports) after 4 weeks. With short term intermittent absence, you may wish to review any employee's absence after 3 to 5 odd day's absence or use something like the Bradford Factor.

Our Focus this month is on Absence so why not visit our Focus page to read more about managing absence.

Angie.  You can contact Angie Dansey at

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