Sick or not so sick? Dealing with employee sick days…

Winter is well and truly upon us and it’s clear that the work force is feeling the effects of the cold and gloomy weather.

During this season, you may find your employees calling in more regularly, complaining of their unwanted coughs and sniffles, but how sick should really be if you’re too sick to go to work?

We’ve all experienced scenarios where staff have taken a questionable day off. Following a heavy weekend of partying or on a day with a dreaded meeting, and then others who wouldn’t take a day off unless they were at death’s door and bring their sickness to work with them…

Here’s our advice on how to handle both situations:

The problem – sick employees going to work

High pressure jobs and demanding working environments will mean that employees feel the need to turn up for work even though they’re sick. Recent research has found many employees admit to going to work when unwell because of their sheer workload. A lack of resources, elevated job demands, strains of staffing levels and stress, are several reasons why employees feel they can’t afford to take a day off.

Some employees even admitted to still going into work whilst despite being ill, purely down to the fact that they enjoy what they do and can’t keep away!

The solution –

Businesses and their HR departments must communicate to employees the importance of taking time off when unwell, not just to recover and rest, but also to prevent the sickness from being spread around the organisation and causing more employees to have to take time off work too.

Employees need fair and reasonable sick leave programs for security; to know they can take time off without having to worry and reassurance that there will be someone to pick up their workload whilst absent. This will improve honesty and trust between management and employees when it comes to absenteeism and improve overall performance.

The problem – employees that aren’t sick missing work

A recent study showed that almost half of the employment workforce admitted to calling in a ‘sickie’, when they were perfectly healthy, and 1 in 4 employers say they have had to let a member of staff go after faking a sickness.

Employees will use sickness as an excuse to cover up many different reasons for not wanting to come into work, but this is something to be dealt as the cost related to absenteeism are high. The kind of costs incurred include overtime pay for other employees, hiring temps, missed deadlines, lost sales, sinking morale and lower productivity.

The solution –

To deal with attendance problems, organisations should have a clearly written policy that specifies the standards and employee requirements for days of absence. Be sure to specify that anyone abusing and misusing the policy will be disciplined. Keep the policy flexible, since it is virtually impossible to list every single potential offense!

A clear policy can help you understand as a business why people are taking days off, is there a pattern leave in a particular department or under a specific manager? Monitor sick leave trends and put in place procedures to deal with and encourage more positive behaviours.

To summarise, there are many different reasons people may take time off sick and really there is no right or wrong in going to work or staying at home sick. It’s up the individual and the business to assess the situation properly. Business must take the responsibility to talk to employees and get to the root of the problem, be it staff that aren’t taking leave when they need it or staff taking time off when they don’t…

If you’re sick of your job and that’s what you’re missing days of work, then contact Quay Appointments who can assist in helping find the solution and your dream role!

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