Staff absences can prove very costly for businesses no matter the size. However public sector employees are shown to be absent consistently more than those in the private sector. New stats published by The Tax Payers Alliance shows that public sector workers have taken the highest number of sick days for the last 25 years.

On average SME’s face lower level of absences compared to larger companies but what can be done to prevent it becoming an issue for your business in the long term.

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR said: “Staff sickness is virtually impossible to prevent, but that doesn’t make it any less costly. Whether it’s finding a temporary worker, compensating the absent employee or the possible decline of productivity, in the UK the economic cost of sickness absence is £100bn.

“Other than the public sector, the healthcare and retail sectors have experienced the highest levels of absence so far this year.

“Excessive and re-occurring absences interrupt the day-to-day running of a company, so monitoring absence is the first step to understanding the reason behind it.

“Creating a record and logging the reasons behind an absence can help you spot trends. For example, do they increase during school holidays or the summer months?

“When a staff member is off sick it is a good idea to keep in touch with them to see how things are progressing. It can be a delicate balance as too much contact can disturb an employee’s recovery while too little can result in feeling out of the control of the situation.

“It’s important to never assume what may be going on. Multiple short-term absences can be more disruptive than a singular long-term absence so it may be appropriate to ask if there are any underlying issues that you should be aware of that will prevent future staff absences.

“However, if there are no underlying conditions and the absences are unconnected an employee may be in breach of your absence policy and you may need to take disciplinary action.”