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HR 101 – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse – Part 1

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements

I can’t begin to tell you how many of my current clients are singing the same tune. Actually if the truth be told it is much more of a lament. Their staff are constantly off work “sick”. Sadly for the employer this constant abuse of sick leave has far reaching and very damaging consequences and either the employee doesn’t understand this or they don’t give two hoots about the high risk factor to their employment that their irresponsible behaviour causes.

As the employer, you need to know exactly what the problem is and of course how big the problem is in terms of its financial implications. Once this has been determined you will be in a far better position to take steps to address the situation.

Firstly you need to ascertain just how big your problem is and it is therefore time to look at the records to get all the numbers (now do you understand just how important it is to get the records done, up to date and properly maintained).

– You need to have a look at the amount of time taken for each absence, for each staff member. Are they ‘one day’ absences or two days at a time or several days. What about ‘which’ days are usually taken – are they usually before or after a weekend or public holiday? Are there any kinds of consistencies, for example, your staff member has a child who is in the 1st team swim squad. The team travels for meets all over the country. The employee is absent mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays in the summer months, but very seldom in winter!

– What do these absences cost you? Apart from the fact that you are paying the wages/salary of the employee (so their daily rate would apply) there is also the lack of productivity that needs to be factored in as obviously the deliverables are also affected. So start there and work out a rough estimate.

– Get some sort of indication of the ‘type of illnesses’ that the staff claim to have. For example you would expect people to be ‘down with the flu’ or coughs and colds, during the winter months, but not necessarily all the way through summer as well. Obviously there will be some instances where this information is not available, but where and when it is, it makes for interesting reading.

Once you have gathered and analysed all of this information you will be in a far better position to understand the impact that the absenteeism has on your company.

Next time we will have a look at trying to ascertain the causes of the absenteeism.