The Cost of an Absence

Every day an employee has off work has a cost – be it financial to provide cover; time to arrange cover or pick up work; or impact on pupil learning or behaviour.  These effects need to be balanced with the benefits to employee engagement and wellbeing that flexible and compassionate management can bring.

Leave Discretion

While some time off provisions are statutory, there are many discretionary elements, including whether leave should be paid or unpaid. Having a clear policy and process for requesting leave helps to ensure a fair balance between the needs of the school and individual staff.

The important issue is to be consistent and to keep clear records of the decisions made and the rationale behind it.

Manage Expectations

What can you expect from staff?

Requests should be submitted in a timely manner and in writing. Of course, emergencies arise from time to time but every effort should be made to notify the school as quickly as possible that time off is required. In these circumstances decisions can be made over the phone, but be sure to follow up with a written record.

Granting Leave

There are a few points to consider before the decision is made:

  • the circumstances surrounding the request and the number of days requested
  • how many requests the employee has submitted and been granted in the previous 12 month period
  • their general attendance and absence record
  • how similar requests by other employees have been handled
  • whether and how the employee’s work can be covered
  • any impact on other aspects of the school’s operational effectiveness
Richard Balls

Richard Balls

Richard Balls started providing advice and guidance to schools over 30 years ago. He has supported schools in the management of the full range of HR matters such as disciplinaries, absence management, redundancies and capability management. He is a certified trainer and supports the delivery of our training courses designed to develop and empower school managers. He is a graduate and also holds an HND in Public Administration.

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