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Do’s and Don’ts on when and how to contact your staff when they are absent from work.


  • Ensure that there is an element of trust by agreeing beforehand your methods, frequency and reasons for keeping in contact with absent employees;

  • Consider training for your managers on a sensitive approach to help them get the most out of contact;

  • Keep a record of contacts made, including brief notes of the discussions that take place;

  • Be flexible, treat each case individually but on a fair and consistent basis;

  • Give your employees the opportunity to discuss, in private, concerns about their health or other matters that are affecting their performance or attendance;

  • Remember that medication can have side effects on things like physical stamina, mood, operation of machinery and safety critical tasks.


  • Wait until someone is on long-term sick leave before taking action;

  • Delay making contact or pass responsibility to others unless there are sound reasons for doing so;

  • Make assumptions about your employee’s situation;

  • Say that colleagues are under pressure or that work is piling up;

  • Forget that recovery times for the same condition can vary significantly from person to person.