According to a recent survey of sickness absence by Benenden Healthcare, the average woman takes over 25% more sick leave days throughout her career than the average man. Female employees take a total of 149 days sickness absence – compared with 189 days for men.
No one’s entirely certain why there’s such difference – but one of the most popular theories is that in addition to pregnancy related sickness, some women take sick days to cope with childcare responsibilities. All employers need to be very careful in dealing with absences due to pregnancy or childcare – or risk pregnancy discrimination or sex discrimination compensation claims.
As a result, however, some employers are reluctant to tackle any sickness problems amongst female employees – especially if they have children or are pregnant. But like most employment law issues, problem staff can and should be tackled – provided it’s done the right way using the right procedure.
Our employment lawyers recommend the use of return to work interviews, however long staff have been absent – provided these are used routinely and fairly, showing no sign that a particular employee was singled out I any way. You may be surprised – a simple and short return to work interview can work wonders with weeding out those staff who regularly throw a sickie.
Our specialist employment solicitors act for both employers and employees throughout Wiltshire and Dorset. Contact us on 01722 422300 for free initial phone advice.