Sickness & Absence Management

Effectively manage your people for the best possible outcome
Businesses in the UK lose billions of pounds through sickness absence and lost production. Occupational Health plays a vital role in providing timely, business focused advice to your organisation, empowering you to effectively manage your people for the best possible outcome, both for you as the employer and for the individual.

Sickness and absence case management is a process by which individual referrals are made to one of our Occupational Health Practitioners. Referrals can be telephone based or face-to-face. Referral reasons may include but are not limited to:

  • Frequent short term absence
  • Long term absence
  • Advice on return to work post accident or injury
  • Medical advice in relation to capability
  • Advice on rehabilitation plans and facilitating a return to work
  • Fitness to travel
  • Poor performance, potentially caused by an undisclosed or undetected medical condition
  • Fitness to attend a disciplinary
  • Ill health retirement

This is a structured process with defined timelines. Formal referral forms are submitted and reports returned to management. A typical report might outline:

  • The reason for absence
  • Details of past medical history, treatment, investigations, proposed management and other significant factors
  • The current fitness status (via history and examination)
  • Any work related issues
  • If further intervention/support is indicated
  • If recovery is going to plan
  • Times to recovery
  • Barriers to recovery
  • If further medical information is required e.g. G.P. report or specialist’s report

Referrals seen by our Occupational Health Physicians are particularly effective for complex or potentially contentious/litigious cases.

For Information on Long Term Absence Management

Long Term Sickness Management

Effectively manage your people for the best possible outcome

In our experience the best way to manage long term absence is two fold; address the causes and implement a robust absence management system.


Generally, anyone over a period of 4 weeks absence is classed as long term sick. However, Soma’s approach is different in the areas highlighted in orange above. Our recommendation is simple; if anyone is absent from work due to any of these conditions they are referred into occupational health on day one. Referring these individuals to occupational health sooner rather than later is vital in order to negate the possibility of them being off work for sustained periods of time.

We also actively encourage our clients to take a pro-active response to the causes of absence. Take stress and presenteeism as examples.

The main causes of stress include:

  • Workload and redundancy
  • Management style
  • Relationships and family
  • Relationships at work
  • Organisational change

More and more companies are tackling the cause of stress absenteeism by introducing:

  • Stress Management Training
  • Staff Surveys
  • Training for managers and staff
  • Flexible working options and improving work life balance


Presenteeism is increasing – people are at work but they are not well. People may be suffering from mental illness/depression and not being productive at work. We need to train managers better in recognising the signs of these conditions and how they can progress this forward in order to help the individual. Early detection of health issues and ensuring the correct support is in place helps people with health problems stay in, or return to work.

Your organisation requires targeted interventions to address these key absence drivers.


Robust Absence Management

Soma can help you to initiate a robust absence management system which is crucial to lowering levels of long-term sickness:

  • Our first line of effectively managing absence is to be pro-active in our approach. This includes effective training, involvement and support for line managers which are critical for success. Soma would also look at the training of line managers about the role of occupational health, with a step by step guide in completion of management referrals.
  • We would work with you to develop robust referral criteria. For example, immediate referral to occupational health for stress or MSD issues. We would also look at planned and unplanned absence. Often we can advise management of planned absence ahead of time, how long the person might be off sick, phased return to work etc. We would also encourage referrals for under performance and fitness to attend disciplinary meetings.
  • We would work with you to ensure the referrals received by us from management are helpful and appropriate. We encourage you to include all relevant information to help us make thorough and comprehensive recommendations in relation to your people.
  • The reports back to you will be timely and in line with our agreed Key Performance Indicators, business focused and objective, providing you with key and relevant information so that you are able to manage the individual moving forward.
  • All case management will be managed to resolution with the Occupational Health Advisor maintaining regular contact with the employee and updating the client on a regular basis.
  • We provide you with management information using the COHORT occupational health software, which can break down causes of absence, to department and provide Management Information at a push of a button. It also works within the Key Performance Indicators we have set for you as our client, so that you can see we are within the service level agreement. The COHORT system also has an on-line facility where you can log on to your personal dashboard and obtain the status of individual cases.

Contact Soma

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Our Offices:
Suite 9A,
Malvern Gate Business Park
Bromwich Road
United Kingdom

tel 01905 422808

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