Sick of sickies

A recent survey showed that 21% of staff said the last day they took off work ‘sick’ they weren’t actually sick at all, but were instead pulling a ‘sickie’. 21%? It’s enough to blow your mind if you are a line manager or company owner.

So, what would it feel like to lop 21% of your sick pay bill each year if you could find a way to ensure money wasn’t being handed out to malingerers? What would you spend your savings on?

Well…you could use the money to fund a pay increase for all staff given recent lean times, you might also have enough to fund the new pension contributions that will be required within a year or so. You might even spend a bit on an employee counselling and support service for those who do get genuinely ill or stressed. Alternatively, you could just put most of it in your own pocket and fund a few great weekends away or put it towards your yacht fund!

But joking aside how do you tackle this difficult issue?  Why not consider:

  • Offering staff one ‘duvet’ day each year i.e. a day that they can, without penalty, just call in and say they are staying in bed.  You can then be really clear what happens to those who take more than one day each year.
  • Putting all your line managers through some really rigorous return to work interview training to seriously ramp up the pressure on staff who think they can next day sidle back into work unnoticed.
  • Introduce a bonus company ‘bank holiday’ i.e. let your staff each choose one Monday a year that they can notify you they won’t be in work but simultaneously reminding them of the importance of regularly attending work!
  • Revisit your sickness absence procedure and consider separating it into two separate procedures – one for absences of two days or less and one for longer absences. You can then be really clear about how tough you will be with staff who are repeatedly absent for very short periods of time.
  • Reviewing where in your induction process you raise awareness of how short term absence will be managed. Put it somewhere really prominent and memorable and then consider how to regularly remind staff of it.
  • Setting line managers targets for reducing absences of two days or less. Set clear standards and responsibilities and then praise/reward achievement of those.

And finally, legislation is complicated – particularly in relation to disability discrimination – so whatever you decide to do, just check it out with us or your employment advisors before going public to ensure nothing will trip you up!

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