How to Handle Frequently Absent Employees

Most businesses take responsibility for the well-being of their employees.  This is not just the proper approach but there is, of course, self-interest as well.  Employees who can take time off when they are not well will get better faster and will not spread their illness throughout the office.  Sick days and vacation days are good for everyone…  if they’re used properly.

But what happens when you have an employee who abuses sick leave and other absenteeism policies? Employee sick leave and absenteeism management is an important part of running an efficient business, and part of an effective strategy is being prepared for employees who abuse their time off.  Here are a few simple suggestions to protect your business.

Keep Track

If you believe an employee is using sick days inappropriately, look for patterns, ask for doctor’s notes where appropriate and keep records for later reference.  This is doubly important if the employee is using sick days after being denied a day off for other reasons.  If they are absent more frequently than their peers (who then have to cover their work) being able to demonstrate this abusive pattern with data is a powerful tool both for educating the employee and protecting yourself later if you are forced to let the employee go.

Communicate the Concern

An important aspect of employee sick leave and absenteeism management is to have proper sick leave and absenteeism policies. If you believe the employee is abusing these policies then alert the employee to the concern.  Have a meeting with them and tell them you have noticed their frequent absences, and use the data you have collected.  Be clear that while you sympathize with the circumstances that may be causing these absences, you cannot have an employee constantly missing work, as it impacts not only you the employer  but their co-workers who have to cover for them.  Be clear that you expect the behavior to change and that their failure to do so could result in disciplinary action including termination.

Consider Alternatives

As a final concept for employee sick leave and absenteeism management, consider transforming your sick and vacation days into a Paid Time Off (PTO) program.