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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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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:
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).
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:
Access all the attendance management recording tools
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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:
Length of absence - common measures you can use include:
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:
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:
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:
Length of absence - common measures used include:
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:
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):
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