Sick Time: Benefit or Right?
Holly DePalma |
Sick time is a benefit that, in some instances, is perceived as a right. It’s provided so that your employees can get paid while they are taking care of themselves, should the situation arise that they are sick. And generally speaking, employers want their employees to keep their germs at home. However, the abuse of this benefit, and the perception of this benefit as a right, can be challenging for employers.
At the very basic level, it is essential to proactively manage your employees with respect to unscheduled absenteeism. It is imperative that you set guidelines for your employees to follow, follow your policy, train on your policy, communicate frequently, and most importantly, don’t ignore potential problems.
Some organizations have adopted PTO policies which lump together sick and vacation to minimize unscheduled absenteeism. If you are going to implement a PTO policy, you must have a very clear “unscheduled” call out policy. For example, require that employees must actually talk to a manager, rather than emailing, texting, or notifying a co-worker. Verbal communication with a manager may work as a disincentive to employees who may be abusing unscheduled time off. In addition, that manager should feel free to ask the employee to call back later in the day to let him or her know how they are feeling and to gauge whether or not the employee will work the following day.
Think about implementing a quarterly bonus program for perfect attendance. Publicly recognize and reward departments where there are no unscheduled absences. If unscheduled absences are significantly problematic in your workplace, consider a competition that is visible and talked about where departments try to obtain perfect attendance over a set period of time.
When Positivity Isn’t Enough
Unfortunately, all of the proactive management and positive reinforcement sometimes doesn’t fix the problem. In cases where business productivity is significantly impacted by unscheduled absenteeism, organizations may need more creative solutions.
One solution could be to calculate the actual costs of unscheduled absenteeism. Is your business incurring significant overtime costs to meet production/customer needs? Are customer needs just not being met? Are you losing revenue? Has turnover become an issue because of increased overtime and frustration of the staff? It may make sense to eliminate sick time completely and give a little more vacation time. This creates a situation where, if you are sick, you don’t get paid. Getting paid is a big incentive to come to work. Another suggestion may be to move to PTO and implement very stringent management of unscheduled absenteeism.
You Are Not Alone
Overall, a lot of companies struggle with unscheduled absenteeism and abuse of sick time. It is important to set guidelines and policies and manage to those policies. Typically, there may be a few select employees who will challenge this benefit and create significant management stress. These people can be managed specifically, rather than making everyone suffer the consequences. In situations where the problem is more systemic and pervasive, consider changing policy to create a disincentive to calling out sick.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://meainfo.org/app/uploads/2014/10/holly-depalma.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Holly DePalma
Director of HR Serviceshdepalma@meainfo.org[/author_info] [/author]