Today is supposed to be the day of the year when more employees take a day’s sickie than any other.
Much of this is based upon employees having thought about career moves over the Christmas break, job hunted during January and having interviews in February (with 20% more interviews taking place in the first week of February than any other week). Add to that Monday morning blues, the usual seasonal coughs and colds and the current cold weather and there may be lots of reasons for employees not turning in.
Employers should remember that employees must give genuine reasons for absence – and that failing to give a proper reason or to give a dishonest reason would amount to misconduct and could be subject to the employer’s formal disciplinary procedure. A good way of investigating absence is to hold routine “return to work” interviews after all periods of sick leave – no matter how short. This can be nothing more than a quick chat with the employee to discuss the reasons for absence, whether there are any underlying issues (such as health conditions, lifestyle issues, family pressures) and whether they followed the proper reporting procedures. Often, simply knowing that absence is monitored and that they will be asked to account for their absence makes employees think twice.
If you believe that an employee is not genuinely sick, you should investigate fully and follow your normal disciplinary procedure before deciding whether to issue a formal warning.
For all staff, we would advise that you monitor sickness absence and review more formally if absence exceeds a certain level, for example, more than 3 instances of sickness or 10 days of absence in any 6 month period. This helps ensure that problems are picked up early and that employees are treated consistently.
Newtons can provide you with sickness and disciplinary procedures – all in plain English. We can also give you detailed advice on handling employees in these situations.