Legislative Compliance

What’s Your Excuse? Managing Sick Days

February 7, 2018

Sick Days: A Challenge for Employers and HR

Managing employee attendance is one of the most difficult tasks employers and HR face. Many workplaces allot employees a few days to be used in case of illness or injury. In some jurisdictions, workplaces must provide these days, but in others sick days are not regulated by legislation. When workplaces provide sick days, they are typically intended to be used when an employee feels they cannot go into work due to illness or injury.

Trust and the Sick Day Policy

A company’s sick days policy is built on the honour system, where an employee can call in and let their employer know they won’t attend work. Most workplaces require medical documentation from a physician only after a prolonged absence—usually three consecutive days or more. Employers want to believe their employees are using sick time for its intended purpose—just wanting some time off is not a real illness.

Creative Excuses: When Sick Days Aren’t So Sick

Have you heard some poor excuses from employees about why they need a sick day? A recent survey where employers submitted the most outlandish reasons they’ve heard shows some creative employees, to say the least. Let’s take a look at a few questionable ones.

  • An employee said they poked themselves in the eye with a hairbrush.
  • An employee said they were going to the beach because their doctor said they needed more vitamin D.
  • An employee said that they were stuck under the bed.

Although some of these could very well be true, they would not constitute the use of a sick day by most employers’ sick day policies. So how can you simplify attendance management?

To lessen the attendance issue, employers must ensure they have a clear policy in place. Workplaces should strive to create an atmosphere that is open and honest around the topic of sick days, monitor sick day use, and address any concerns immediately; and if possible, consider providing more flexible work schedules or personal days. The struggle of attendance will not just go away, but tools and management strategies can be implemented to reduce attendance issues.

Download HRdownloads’ Sick Days Management Plan for best practice advice from our team of HR professionals on how your organization can ensure it effectively manages employees’ use of sick days.

Sources: CareerBuilder’s Annual Study Reveals This Year’s Most Absurd Excuses for Calling in Sick

Editor’s Note: The article was originally published on November 18, 2016, and updated on February 8, 2018.

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