This article is based on the recently published report, Managing Sickness Absence in the Police Service: A Review of Current Practices, which was commissioned by the Home Office and the Health and Safety Executive. It aims to use this to inform approaches to reducing the number of days lost to ill health in the police forces in England and Wales.
The research involved focus groups and interviews with over 300 police staff and officers in a representative sample of seven police forces. The report is based on an in‐depth analysis of absence management in the case study forces and presents the views of all levels of staff.
The findings identify the clear themes and issues that are vital for the effective management of absence in the police forces, but these insights are also clearly relevant to all organisations.
The key messages from the research are that absence management requires a mix of approaches to support the vast majority who are genuinely sick and to deter the small minority whose absence is not health‐related. A good clear absence policy is essential but not sufficient. It must be supported by reliable data that are presented in an understandable format. Wider issues also need to be considered, such as the actual causes of absence so that appropriate solutions are provided. The key player in all this is the line manager who must be confident in their role, well trained and capable of using their discretion in managing their staff who are absent.
The paper identifies the clear themes and issues that are vital for the effective management of absence in the police forces which can also be applied to other organisations.
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