HR 101 – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse – Part 2

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Last time we looked at some of the records that need to be kept in order to ascertain the trends of absenteeism.

This time we will look at what you need to do in order to try and get to the root of the problem.

You need to do an audit on your company to see if you can highlight the problem areas.

Included in your audit should be the following (but not limited to):
–    Is there a documented leave policy in place and do all of your staff know the possible consequences of abuse to absenteeism.
–    Whether or not the line managers and/or supervisors (and indeed even you yourself) manage the absenteeism.  Do all the employees face the same consequences or do some employees get preferential treatment?
–    Are the workspaces and/or working conditions comfortable, are your staff working in a safe environment, is there sufficient lighting and air circulation etc.
–    Are there any other factors that could have any bearing on job satisfaction?  If so, these could be part of the absenteeism problem.

There are several ways in which to conduct this type of audit, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune and it can be done ‘in-house’ as long as the person conducting the assessment remains impartial and of course there cannot be any ramifications and/or consequences  for the answers that you get from your employees.

One of the most successful ways to conduct this type of audit is by interviewing the staff.  Ideally this would be done with the line managers and employee representatives.  Another way to do this is to get the staff to complete a questionnaire or survey on the important issues – this of course can be done anonymously.

Some of the questions that could be asked are (but not limited to):-
–    What work do you do?
–    What are your responsibilities (as you understand them)
–    What department do you work in
–    Do any of the following impact on your work (work flow and/or quality of the work that is produced):
•    Level of noise
•    Attitude of fellow staff members and to fellow staff members
•    Attitude of management and to management
•    Availability of tools and equipment
•    Training to use the tools and equipment (and include in here computer and technical skills too)
•    Physical layout and accessibility of the work areas in relation to the work flow
•    Personal circumstances that may make coming to work difficult
•    Personal health problems
•    Any other factor that may make coming to work difficult

Don’t forget to include something where the staff can list some additional comments or expectations.

Once you have gathered all the information together, it might be time for you as the employer to make some changes.  Continue to monitor the absenteeism to see if those changes have made any difference.  If they have, well done – if they haven’t then probably it is just in the nature of the employees that you have and it is time to bring out the big guns and institute proceedings against them for the excessive absenteeism or “Incapacity” to give it the correct term.

Remember though that it is a process and it’s a process that will have to be properly managed.  So every step along the way needs to be documented properly.  As the employer, you will have to ‘show’ that you have given them every opportunity to improve their attendance and assist them with their health care.

The bottom line however is simple – as much as the employees have all sorts of rights from the employer, the employer also has the right to expect the work to get done and therefore the employer has the right to expect the employee to be at work.

Don’t get emotional about it, just stick to the facts and if you are not sure what to do, then get a Labour Consultant to assist you.  It will be the cheaper option in the long run.

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