Christmas markets, dinner parties and work outings are all fun and games until a winter bug or one too many mulled wines from the night before result in staff having to take an unexpected sick day, which for employers can be an operational nightmare.

In preparation for the festive period, we advise on some of the ways employers can avoid unauthorised staff absences.

Set the rules

It’s important for employers to remind employees of any holiday restrictions far in advance. Refer back to your holiday policy, if applicable, which sets out how many employees can be off at any one time, mandatory working days and days when the office is closed.

This will encourage employees to plan ahead and book in any annual leave dates in advance, rather than ‘pulling a sickie’ on the day.

Don’t be afraid to refuse absence

If there are certain periods throughout December that are particularly busy for you, you may want to introduce some blackout dates, whereby staff simply cannot take those days as annual leave. Again, it’s important to voice these decisions far in advance to ensure staff can make plans.

Alternatively, you could set a limit on the number of days staff can take off during that month.

Be generous

There’s certainly no law to say employees must receive extra pay throughout the festive season, but as a gesture of goodwill and slight encouragement, offering ‘time and a half’ or ‘double pay’ could be the answer to ensuring staff don’t take unauthorised absences on the days you need them most. Merry Christmas!

Join in the celebrations

Make your office a fun place to work, either by adding speckles of tinsel throughout the office, arranging a Secret Santa gift exchange or dishing out festive chocolates. By doing so, the desire to call in sick will be lower.

Use an online software

Christmas is hectic enough, without having to monitor staff absences. Implementing an absence management system can take a huge amount of stress away by streamlining the request and approval process. It will also offer a useful reporting functionality so you can see who’s off, when, and help you spot any clashing leave requests.

Start your free, 30-day LeavePlanner trial today.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email