Posted Date: 21st April 2022

A common absence management tool used by employers is to set absence triggers to help keep track and monitor employee absences. A trigger is reached when an employee has a defined level of absence, which should be written and communicated in an Absence Policy. For example, more than three absence incidents over a twelve-month period.

However, there are certain situations whereby specific absences shouldn’t be included in these triggers or used towards disciplinary proceedings.

When an employee has been absent due to an isolation requirement or the employer has sent them home to work, it should not be included as it would be deemed as unfair when the employee was following Government rules, or, when the rules were lifted, rules set down by the employer – particularly if the employee felt well enough to work.


Disability is protected under the Equality Act 2010 and under the Act, employers have a legal duty to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to policies, practices or the workplace to ensure that the disabled employee is not substantially disadvantaged. The employer should agree a plan of action with the employee to identify any reasonable adjustments that can be made to help improve their absence. An adjustment could be to increase the absence trigger level for the employee. Access to Work is a good source for support with reasonable adjustments.

Family friendly leave

Including leave taken for statutory rights such as maternity leave or pregnancy appointments in absence triggers would be discrimination. If an employee suffers a miscarriage, they are also protected for two weeks thereafter. Absences connected with other family friendly leave such as paternity leave, parental bereavement and emergency time off for dependents must also be removed. Employees who take this leave are protected by law and should not receive any detriment for doing so.


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