Employees may need time off for a variety of reasons, from short-term sickness to longer-term health issues. An effective absence management framework should support employees' health needs while providing clear and consistent guidance to avoid unauthorised absence or inappropriate use of sick pay schemes.

This factsheet takes a closer look at sickness absence, the reasons for it, and its implications for organisations. 

Explore our viewpoint on employee health and wellbeing in more detail, along with actions for government and recommendations for employers. 

Read our recommendations for an effective sick pay system.

This factsheet was last updated by Lisa Ayling and Rachel Suff.

Lisa Ayling: solicitor and employment law specialist

Lisa is a lawyer with many years’ experience of contentious and nonā€contentious employment law. As well as writing and editing employment law content for the CIPD, Lisa lectures extensively on employment law, including years as a senior lecturer and leader of the employment team at BPP University and on the LLM programme at Kingston University. 

Rachel Suff: Senior Employee Relations Adviser, CIPD

Rachel informs CIPD policy thinking on health and wellbeing as well as employment relations. She has over 25 years’ experience in the employment and HR arena.

Related content

CIPD Viewpoint
Employee health and wellbeing

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on health and wellbeing at work, including recommendations for employers

Thought leadership
UK policy reforms needed to shift dial on economic participation of long-term sick

Urgent public policy reform to promote good work and health is needed to tackle long-term sickness absence

Guides
Supporting employees with long-term health conditions

Practical advice and guiding principles for effective support

For Members
Guides
People manager guide: Managing and supporting employees with long-term health conditions

Practical advice and guiding principles for effective support

Explore our other factsheets

Factsheets
Change management

Learn how to manage, enable and support change management initiatives effectively

Factsheets
Understanding the economy and labour market

Learn how an understanding of the macro-economic context can inform HR practice

Factsheets
Organisation development

Explores what organisation development is and how it's carried out in today’s organisations

Factsheets
Employee benefits: an introduction

Learn how to implement various employee benefits as part of a wider reward strategy

Factsheets