The festive season often brings challenges to employers as an annual challenge to try to battle through the cold months with a full team. Absences often happen, and one of the biggest causes is seasonal sick leave.
Most employees will follow the office procedures and rules in regards to calling in sick, however, there are always a few occasional workers who seem to take advantage of the system. What can you do to stay on top of it?
Simple: have very clear sickness rules and monitoring processes. Here’s how:
Sick leave policy & procedures
All companies should have sickness policies and procedures. If you don’t, you need them to set out:
- How staff should report an absence.
- The proof people need to verify.
- What constitutes an action against an employee.
- Your sick pay arrangements.
Managing employee sickness is important for the growth of your business and for maintaining a strong organizational culture. Keeping a formal record of leaves of absence has long-term advantages and ensures both you and your employees are aware of what happens.
Monitoring sick leave
Record all periods of staff sick leave in an easy-to-read format. Ensure that you are also documenting the reasoning for their absence. This allows you to identify any patterns, like if someone takes every Thursday off (when you know there are staff drinks every Wednesday night).
Once sick leave reaches an unacceptable level, you can take disciplinary action. Habitual short-term absences are more likely to elicit corrective action than longer-term absences.
A verbal or written warning is usually enough to diminish absence issues.
This is a helpful tool to talk through an employee’s absence and discuss whether you can offer support to keep them in work. Let them know that you’ve noticed issues in attendance and see if they are open to telling you what the problem is.
If they aren’t sharing information, ensure that you ask the right questions, such as whether there are any issues you should know about, to see if they could be suffering from a disability.
Then, you can put in place alterations to help decrease absences.
Deal with fake sick leave
If you suspect someone’s dishonest about being sick during the festive season, investigate it. Get as much evidence as possible, include notes from any return-to-work interviews, and get witness statements from colleagues (they may have overheard employees talking about fake sickness).
Once the investigation’s over, invite your employee to a disciplinary hearing and get in-person answers to your questions. When you get insufficient explanations or lies, take disciplinary action for falsely claiming sickness.
Reduce individuals coming to work despite illness
Your stance on an employee being absent due to illness should not be so severe that employees who are genuinely sick feel like they have to come to work.
In fact, ‘presenteeism’ has a damaging impact on your workforce.
For employers, a paid sick leave is beneficial to accelerate recovery time and reduce the spread of illness, both of which, help to increase workplace productivity and morale.
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