Essential HR

Are sick employees giving you a headache?

The warmer months are starting to be the light at the end of a dreary, grey and wet winter tunnel. With the end of winter, however, come a lot of frustrated Employers who are at their wit’s end of Employees who have simply taken too many sick days.

At Essential HR we hear it all too often “He has taken his 5 days and then some more, and it’s starting to take its toll on our business” the “some more” can be another 5 or in some cases it’s more like another 20. The frustration is the same and all too often it feels like there is very little that can be done about it.

Well, there are things that you can do and action that can be taken. Here are a few practical steps:

  • Firstly, make sure you have a conversation with your employee as soon as you become aware that there is an issue. Make sure they realise that the level of absenteeism isn’t appropriate and that their absence has an effect on their team mates and the business.
  • Make sure they are visiting the Doctor to ensure they are taking steps to address their ill health. Here is when you can ask your employee to visit the doctor and provide you with a medical certificate (refer to our next blog (Making GP's your allies) for suggestions on working with GP's):

          - After three consecutive days off (not three working days)
          - You can ask that they do visit a Dr for fewer days but you must pay for the visit
          - If they have exhausted their sick leave entitlement you can request they visit a Dr and                                obtain a medical certificate for even one day and they have to pay for it.

  • Make it your standard practise to hold a “return to work” conversation with any employee who has a unplanned day away from work. Checking in, to make sure your employee is OK and well enough to be back at work shows empathy and also helps you understand why people are sick and sets an expectation that such a conversation will take place on return.
  • Lastly, you can discipline employees for misuse of sick leave or excessive absences. The proper process must be followed (as always) but, don’t fear this as an option, it’s perfectly valid and often will see result just from one formal meeting.

If you are reading this thinking that you could use some advice, email us. We are here to help.