Recording attendance tool

Last reviewed on 18/12/2012 12:36

What do I need to do before I start recording?

Before you begin, you must ensure that legislative requirements for recording attendance data are being met, such as data protection laws. The information you are recording is sensitive and you must ensure that it is kept private. It is a good idea to assure your staff that their personal details will not be passed on to anyone.

Legislation requires employers to provide staff with information on ‘any terms and conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provision for sick pay’. You should have a clearly defined attendance policy in place before you start recording data. This policy should be developed and introduced in partnership with employees and their representatives.

The employees who will be collecting and recording the data should be given training on the tool and associated procedures to ensure they handle and process the data correctly.

 

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Data protection

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act), those who collect and use personal information have to follow rules of good practice for handling information called the data protection principles (external link). The Act also gives rights to individuals whose information they collect and use.

The Act does not prevent you from collecting, maintaining and using attendance data, however, it helps to strike a balance between the employer’s need to keep records and the worker’s right to respect for their private life.

Sickness and injury records may include specific details and information about workers’ physical or mental health. This means you will be processing ‘sensitive personal data’, which brings the Act’s sensitive data rules into play. These rules do not prevent the processing of such information but limit the circumstances in which it can occur. You must be able to satisfy one of the conditions in order to process sensitive personal data. You are most likely to do this if:

  • collecting health information is necessary to protect health and safety
  • the collection is necessary to prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability
  • each worker affected has given explicit consent.

View the Information Commissioner's guide to how the Act affects you as an employer (external link). Guidance about absence records can be found in The Employment Practices Code. Part 2: Employment Records' - revised June 2005 (external link) (PDF, 5.54MB).

 

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Downloadable attendance recording tools

The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives has developed a number of basic attendance recording tools to assist smaller organisations in beginning to record their attendance. You can download this simple excel spread sheet recording tool to your computer and save it there.

There are a number of files to choose from, we recommend that you read the user guide and experiment with the worked example and trail data input as part of your process of familiarisation with the tool.

It is important that you save the downloaded files to your computer system and that you save your data regularly during use as no data is stored online. The resources available are:

  • Excel tool
  • User guide
  • Excel example document
  • Trial data input and questions.

Access all the attendance management recording tools

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Ways to measure sickness absence

There are various ways to analyse your attendance data to determine whether you have a problem within your organisation. We tend to talk positively about “attendance management” but we are actually recording periods of absence. There are two principal aspects of absence data - frequency of absence and length of absence.

Frequency of absence - common measures you can use include:

  • total number of spells of absence in a specified period
  • average number of spells of absence per employee in a specified period
  • number (or %) of employees with any spells of absence in a specified period.

Length of absence - common measures you can use include:

  • average number of days of absence per absence spell
  • average number of days of absence per employee in a specified period.

Also, trigger points are used in many absence monitoring systems to highlight levels or patterns of absence that require further attention, and to determine where and when action by managers (e.g. employee interview or review of absences) may be beneficial. Examples of typical triggers include:

  • cumulative numbers of days absence in a set period (e.g. absences of more than 10 days in 12 months or for more than 6% of contracted hours)
  • number of spells in a set period (e.g. 3 spells of absence in a 6-month period)
  • Bradford Score above a specified limit in a set period (The Bradford Score combines information on both frequency and length of absence and is explained below).
  • pattern-related absence (e.g. a tendency to be off on Fridays or Mondays; sickness absence taken immediately before or after annual or public holidays).

How do I act on data collected?

The use of summary measures helps with the management and monitoring of individual or company-wide levels of absence. The recording tool on this page has some examples of summary measure reports built in. Summaries can be calculated for individual workers, groups of workers (e.g. work departments, age groups, gender) or for the entire workforce.

Absence summary measures can be used to:

  • identify the most frequently reported causes of absence
  • describe the levels of absence across the workforce
  • identify patterns in absence - by cause, department, calendar period for example
  • identify individual levels of absence and notify managers when further action may be beneficial ('trigger points')
  • compare absence levels between departments, staff grades or with other companies of similar size and sector
  • monitor the effect of organisational change.

To analyse your absence data, two principal aspects of absence are generally used - frequency of absence and length of absence. Frequency of absence - common measures used include:

  • total number of spells of absence in a specified period
  • average number of spells of absence per employee in a specified period
  • number (or percentage) of employees with any spells of absence in a specified period.

Length of absence - common measures used include:

  • average number of days of absence per absence spell
  • average number of days of absence per employee in a specified period.

Trigger points

In addition to the use of summary measures, you can also use trigger points that will help you detect any problems your organisation may have with absences. Trigger points are used in many absence monitoring systems to highlight levels or patterns of absence that require further attention, and to determine where and when action by managers (e.g. employee interview or review of absences) may be beneficial.

Typical triggers include:

  • cumulative numbers of days absence in a set period (e.g. absences of more than 10 days in 12 months or for more than 6% of contracted hours)
  • number of spells in a set period (e.g. 3 spells of absence in a 6-month period)
  • Bradford Score above a specified limit in a set period (e.g. Bradford Score exceeds 150 in a 12-month period).
  • pattern-related sickness-absence (e.g. a tendency to be off on Fridays or Mondays; sickness absence taken immediately before or after annual or public holidays).

The Bradford Score is used as a summary measure of absence that combines information on both frequency and length of absence. It seeks to indicate the composition of an individual's absence record, i.e. whether it comprises a few spells of long duration or many spells of short duration and it gives increased weight to higher instances of short-term absence, which is often considered to be more disruptive.

The score is calculated as: the number of spells of absence squared, multiplied by the total number of days absent (i.e. (Number Of Spells)² x Total Days):

  • for example, an employee with three spells of absence, of 3, 5 and 2 days over the past twelve months, would have a Bradford Score of (3 x 3) x 10 = 90 for the period.
  • another employee with two spells of 5 days over the same period would obtain a Bradford Score of (2 x 2 ) x 5 = 20 for the period.

 

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