February 10, 2010

Sick Leave Abuse: How to Manage Employee Absenteeism


Employees get sick; there is just no getting away from this. This can be a huge headache for those handling employee sick days when it comes to scheduling. It could mean a morning frantically phoning around looking for cover and looking for ways to prevent sick leave abuse from time to time.

Handling employee sick days can mean completely rearranging a schedule that has taken hours to produce, and upsetting other staff because their shifts need to be changed. Of course, the important thing is that the staff member has the time to recuperate from their illness, but it is still not easy for those left to take the slack.

When handling employee sick days it is important to always try and get the staff member replaced for the shifts they were working. The only exception to this will be when the shift was overstaffed anyway, but this shouldn’t really happen if scheduling has been done effectively.

It is not a good idea to just leave a shift understaffed because this can mean staff becoming overworked and stressed and likely lead to more work handling employee sick days as more fall by the wayside.

Finding replacement staff can be a real nightmare, but it has to be done. If the staff member is a key-working with important skills that are needed for the shift then finding a replacement is going to be even more difficult.

When you are handling employee sick days and looking for replacements you will probably want to first ring around those members of staff who have the day-off to see if any are willing to come into work; if you are able to offer overtime money then this will likely encourage some to volunteer.

It is usually only the first day sick that is hard to cover because if the person is going to be off for a few days you will likely be able to juggle around with the schedule to fill the gaps. Sometimes handling employee sick days will involve bringing in agency staff or freelancers. This is not always ideal because it can be expensive and showing somebody new the ropes can mean a bit of extra work.

It is almost certain that your business will have its own sick leave policy and other rules about handling employee sick days. We won’t go into these in too much detail here only to mention that employees usually have certain legal rights in regards to these days off for illness.

You may require them to produce a medical certificate for this, but this will depend on your company policy. Despite the disruption caused by handling employee sick days, it is important that the issue is handled delicately. If it is happening too often with the same employee then it would be recommended that they have their case reviewed by your occupational health department. In most instances though, staff will only need a few days to recuperate and will soon be back on their feet.