Sick leaves are a sensitive topic to address as a human resource department or a business owner. On the one hand, you have to appreciate that your employees have rights and be more productive when they are well.
On the other hand, your company loses out on results by working with fewer staff than what is required to meet targets and make the business successful.
While the occasional sick leaves request here and there won’t cost the company too much, frequent sick leaves by one or multiple employees could seriously hurt the bottom line.
So what are you to do as a human resources officer to deal with these excessive sick leaves? Here are 6 tips that should help you find the perfect balance between your employees’ rights and suitability for the company.
1. Have clear and strict policies on sick leave procedures
Your employees must understand that sick leaves are reserved for severe medical needs. The company’s policies should reflect this to ensure that employees only make requests when truly needed.
For this, local guidelines on employee rights will help you know where to draw the line. This includes determining what medical needs necessitate leave from work and the procedures involved in making the request.
2. Firmly address any breeches in the sick leave protocol
If you suspect that some of the sick leaves requests from your employees are disingenuous, it is crucial that you set an example by dealing with such cases firmly once it is proved that there was fraudulence.
The course of action will depend on factors like your company’s policies. The consequences could be pay deduction for the days of work missed during the false sick leaves. You could also consider deducting the time taken off from their regular leave days.
This will undoubtedly discourage other employees from making false sick leave claims.
3. Document and follow up on all sick leave requests
While we are still on suspicious sick leaves requests and breaches in the protocol, a great tip for HR departments dealing with too many sick leaves is to insist on evidence from the employee.
This can be in the form of an insurance claim, a medical note from the physician or surgeon, or hospital forms offered on discharge.
4. Create a safe and healthy work environment
Many health issues that employees face are due to occupational hazards, from workplace injuries to contagious bugs caught at the office.
Therefore, if you want to reduce the number of sick leave requests you are getting, you need to work with the management to ensure that the employees’ work environment is safe and healthy.
5. Facilitate flexible work plans where the job description allows it
If your employees have job descriptions that include loose deadlines or those that will enable them to work remotely. You can come up with adaptable plans to ensure that they meet their targets at their convenience.
This is a proper win-win solution as the employee gets time off to recover without hurting the business’s targets and bottom line.
6. Consider permanent or temporary dismissal as a last resort
While the dismissal of an employee on sick leave is a controversial and strictly regulated option. You may have to consider if you have an employee who is taking too many sick leaves. This is common with terminally or seriously ill employees who have taken months or years off work to address their health needs.
In these cases, you could come up with an agreement to temporarily dismiss the employee. With the option of them getting their job back once on their feet. In dire situations where there seems to be no hope of a prompt return and the employee’s chronic absence is hurting the business, you may have to fire them. But within legal limits, of course.