Written by Stewart Waddell on July 30, 2019
Academy absences

Sickness absence is an issue in all organisations, but in schools the problem is increasing. Although absences cover many different types of leave including paternity, compassionate and pregnancy-related leave, the most common is sick leave.

According to the Department of Education, teacher sickness absences amounted to over 2 million lost working days in schools and academies in the 17/18 academic year. This equates to an average of 4 days sick leave, per teacher.

The importance of monitoring

The common cold may not seem like a big issue nor may a migraine but what steps are you taking to ensure your staff don’t breach policy and don’t have a serious, underlying issue?

Having a system where absences can be easily logged is the first important step to establishing if there are any patterns or possible problems with staff absences. If a school or academy does not log effectively and accurately it makes the proactive management of these absences difficult. 

Monitoring vs management

Most schools log absences in some form or another.

All schools will have an absence policy.

In our experience, what isn’t so common is that these two areas are linked in an easy way so that monitored absences directly trigger actions and policies.

By not managing absences you risk not identifying policy breaches. Every school and academy is different and may have different policies in place. If these policies aren’t enforced within the workplace they may become abused. Monitoring leave can highlight the most affected months and the employees with the most leave periods. By using this data, schools and academies can discuss with their staff if there are any underlying problems, ensure they feel happy within their role or issue them with warnings if they are due to breach policy.

With over 50% of the teaching population taking sickness absence, managing these absences could encourage a decrease in sick leave and improve planning and budgeting for the school when needing to cover staff.

School and academy payroll may also be affected by a lack of monitoring. Ensuring your staff are paid correctly is a priority therefore, overpayments and underpayments made to staff due to sickness, SSP and absence become a concern. Inaccurate tracking of sickness leave can affect salary calculations and payroll accuracy.

How can we help?

Our dedicated VERA portal can help you track, monitor and report on staff absences. Inputting your sickness data can either be done manually or imported from external systems such as SIMS. Absence data can be tracked by employee, the time of year and department.

From the portal you can use this data to produce reports which can be downloaded and printed, ensuring your time is used more effectively.

As academy payroll and HR policies vary, VERA can be tailored to suit your school’s specific needs. Dependent upon your policies, triggers can be set to help identify employees who are close to breaching policy, which enables you to manage your staff more efficiently.

Furthermore, VERA can help you with processes such as return to work procedures, keeping all your employee absence information in one place.

To find out more about our dedicated VERA portal, call 03331 128000 to talk to our specialised VERA team.  

Stewart Waddell is Operations Director at Dataplan and is responsible for ensuring the efficiency and future-proofing of Dataplan’s systems and processes. Stewart has an encyclopaedic knowledge of payroll and has worked in the industry since 1995. There isn’t much that Stewart hasn’t seen before!

Stewart is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals.