Employee sick leave is on the rise. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, countless Americans have missed work in recent years for a variety of reasons. While many workers have legitimate grounds for their absence, others may abuse those same benefits.
When an employee frequently misses work, it can significantly reduce organizational performance and put pressures on legitimately ill employees to come into the office. Employees who take unfair advantage of sick leave may be able to do so through loopholes in their organization’s absence policies or through inconsistent application of those policies. These are some examples of how it could happen:
- The employee fails to medical certification to their manager.
- The employee fails to provide notice as to when they will be absent.
- The employee fails to obtain permission to come in late or leave early.
- The employee’s absences exceed the amount the employer provides.
While managers may have different approaches, there are some universal methods employers can use to minimize absence abuse. If managers start to notice it happening, they should intervene with the suspected employee early before it gets out of hand. They should approach the employee and provide them with documentation or evidence showing supporting the belief that the employee is abusing sick leave. That discussion may shed light on the matter. In some circumstances it could lead to a discovery that the reason for the excessive leave was related to a protected issue, such as a disability or seriously medical condition. If this is the case, human resources or legal counsel should be consulted.
There is no doubt that the most employees are dedicated and honest workers. However, by conducting thorough investigations, analyzing absenteeism policies and their application in the workplace, and paying attention to worker actions, employers can do a better job at monitoring these policies and holding benefits abusers accountable. If you have concerns about employees abusing your absenteeism policies, your would like someone to review and discuss your existing policies, please contact the Employment Law Group at Quinlivan & Hughes.