Why is absence and leave management so important?

5 min read  |   13 May, 2021   By Breathe Australia


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses need to manage employee absence (and health), now more than ever. According to data collected by Direct Health Solutions (DHS), Australia’s largest 24×7 telehealth nurse contact centre, up to 50% of employees across the country are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety on return to the workplace which has resulted in spikes in absenteeism in some industries. 

Finding the best way to handle absence and leave is instrumental in the success of your business, health and morale of your employees as well as preventing extreme absenteeism. One solution for this is absence management software. It helps businesses manage holiday requests, sick days, and all other types of leave, while providing a deeper understanding of leave-related trends or issues.

Another important factor of employee leave that businesses need to consider is how much a sick day can cost a business. DHS found that on average, each sick day costs an Australian company approximately $350. Remember though, that the actual cost will of course depend on the situation and the salary of the sick employee. Plus, the cost could also be more for smaller businesses when there are less employees to take on the extra work.


What is leave management?

Leave management encompasses the processes, software and resources that a business invests in to help employees and their HR teams manage, approve and track leave applications.


What is the difference between absence and leave?

Absence and leave both refer to time an employee is away from work when they are generally expected to be working. The main difference between absence and leave is that ‘absence’ is a term usually used to describe sudden time away from work, where businesses use the term ‘leave’ more when referring to an employee’s time away from work that has been planned.


What are the 7 main types of leave from work?

When setting up systems to monitor and analyse the time your employees take off work these are the seven most important types of leave you need to consider:

  1. Annual leave
    All Australian non-casual employees are legally entitled to four weeks of annual leave per year. It’s leave that your employees spend away from work while still being paid during a time that you agree on together in advance.
  2. Personal, carer’s or sick leave
    Your non-casual employees are also entitled to ten days of paid personal, carer’s or sick leave each year.
    An employee can take this type of leave when they can’t work because they are ill, injured or where they need to care for or support a member of their immediate family.
  3. Compassionate leave
    When a member of an employee’s immediate family or household passes away or suffers an illness or injury that threatens their life, they can take up to two days (or more at your discretion) of compassionate leave.
  4. Long service leave
    The legal requirements around long service leave vary from state to state but in general, employees who have continuously worked with the same employee for around ten years are entitled to take a certain number of weeks of paid long service leave. This is in addition to their annual leave. For example, if your business is in NSW and one of your employees has been working for you for 10 years they will be entitled to 2 months (or 8.67 weeks to be exact) of paid long service leave.
  5. Parental leave
    Once your non-casual employees have worked with you for 12 months, they are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. They can take this leave up to six weeks before their child’s due date. If your employee is adopting a child, they can take parental leave from the expected date that their adopted child is being placed with them.
    It’s not uncommon for some employee contracts to include a certain number of months of paid parental leave but if not, some employees will be entitled to some government funding during part of their parental leave.
  6. Community service leave
    There is no limit to the amount of unpaid community service leave an employee can take in Australia. The only condition of taking this type of leave is that the activity must meet the definition of an eligible community service activity, and that it is a reasonable and suitable time for your employee to be away from work.
    However, if your employee volunteers for the State Emergency Service, the Country Fire Authority or is summoned for jury duty, you usually always need to allow them time away from work to fulfill these duties.
  7. Family and domestic violence leave
    The National Employment Standards (NES) stipulate that all Australian employees are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year you employ them.
    Your employees might need to take this kind of leave to take care of something that deals with the impact of family and domestic violence, for example: making arrangements for their (or a close relative’s) safety, attending a court hearing, or speaking with police.


Why is absence and leave management important for your business?

Poorly managed absent employees can affect everything from staff morale to productivity. An effective leave management solution will help you handle employee requests for time-off fairly, efficiently and properly so that your business runs smoothly while your employees recharge, recover, or attend to family. Beyond that, these are the four main reasons that having good leave management practices in place is so important for your business:

  1. You will avoid being understaffed
    A proper leave management process allows you to align your employee leave requests with important deadlines. This means you can ensure your available team can always cover the necessary workload.
  2. You can respond better to time-off requests
    When your HR team, other managers and employees can see the same leave management page it’s easy for everyone to view any existing requests in the pipeline before a new request is approved or denied. A clear vision will also help you gain a deeper understanding of employee absence overall.
  3. You can fairly respond to leave requests for the same day
    If you can only allow one employee to be away at a given time, how do you fairly choose between two leave requests for the same day? Without access to employees’ leave histories, you might approve or refuse the wrong request and risk causing an unjust situation.
  4. You will be able to calculate leave properly
    A leave balance discrepancy between one of your employees and their manager can get ugly quickly, especially when you don’t have the necessary data to mitigate the situation.
    Avoid giving employees too much or too little time-off by making sure your leave management system can accurately calculate paid leave hours and record which employees took which days off,

Breathe’s easy-to-use leave management software makes leave management simple and stress free. It gives you the power to better understand your absence record, identify absence problems, and set about resolving them.

Our software records and stores all information regarding employee absence and holiday entitlement. Your team can access this data from any device, so there’s never any misunderstanding of their available leave and total allowance.


Author: Breathe Australia

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