With winter upon us, we thought some advice on how to deal with genuine, but regular sick leave might come in handy. Blatant abuse of sick leave is generally easy to deal with through the disciplinary process, but someone who has frequent, genuine sick-days is more difficult to manage.
Frequent genuine sick leave users are parents with childcare responsibilities or people with poor health and underlying medical issues. It is normal to be sympathetic to people in this kind of situation, but it is still very disruptive to the workplace. The impact of having a team member who is unreliable in their attendance (however genuine the reason) can be huge. Extra work is either given to team mates to cover, or remains ‘on hold’ until the employees return to work. This may result in resentment or the perception that taking the ‘odd-day off’ is acceptable.
Discuss the issue with compassion and honesty
Speak to the person about your concerns and explain your sick leave policy, as well as the impact on their team and your business. Then work together to find ways to minimise the impact. Can your employee work effectively from home? Or flexibly in the evening or at weekends? Can you change their hours or days of work to accommodate their needs, or put additional support mechanisms in place?
If you make special arrangements, we recommend you communicate these arrangements and the reasons for them to the rest of your team. This will help mitigate any resentment of perceived special treatment.
If the situation doesn’t improve, let your employee know that they they owe a duty of care to act in good faith in the employment relationship. Persistent unreliability without any effort to correct the situation runs the risk of breaching this duty of good faith. In this situation your options can include disciplinary action or considering medical retirement. But before taking action we recommend you seek professional advice. The circumstances of individual cases may differ and any action taken needs to be appropriate to the situation.
At HRtoolkit we have everything you need to help manage those tough decisions.
Let us show you how.