When an employee calls in sick, it can’t be disruptive to workflows, affect productivity and cause resentment among employees. As if this isn’t a difficult enough situation, an employee who always calls in sick before or after the weekend can cause suspicion and resentment.
If you do start to notice this pattern in one of your employees, it’s important not to jump to conclusions and assume they are trying to create long weekends by using sick days. There will be some instances where a person receives regular medical treatment for a chronic condition before or after the weekend.
Clearly, this can be a tricky situation. It should not be ignored because doing that could upset other employees. On the other hand, putting out accusations that turn out to be false can seriously jeopardize your relationship with your staff.
Require a doctor’s note?
Some companies or people make it a policy to require a doctor’s note for recurring call-ins. While that is a possibility, this policy generally isn’t a great one.
Mandating a doctor’s note discourages employees from staying home if they are ill, which can spread sickness around a workplace. It is an also excessive burden, drives up medical costs by compelling people to go to the doctor and signals to your workers that you don’t trust them. It’s preferable to simply believe your staff members, expect them to conduct themselves properly and discuss a situation directly if one arises.
Consider the employee
If a situation does need to be addressed, the first step is to consider the overall conduct of the employee in question. If he or she is generally a great employee, a good approach is to simply be concerned. Mention that you have noticed a pattern and only want to know if there is a reason behind it.
However, if he or she’s is not the best worker, you should take a sterner approach and be ready to talk about overall performance issues.
Even if you suspect the worst, it’s best to start the conversation by expressing concern. Simply say you noticed a pattern, wonder if they noticed a pattern as well, and ask if there’s a reason behind the pattern. If there is a legitimate reason for these repeated absences, the two of you can work out a plan for potential future call-ins.
If the employee cannot provide a good explanation, you should explain that using sick leave causes more of a disruption than vacation leave because people don’t expect the absence. Point out that you don’t want to discourage the use of sick leave, but it is your responsibility to say something if a pattern emerges because of the potential impacts on productivity and other employees. Close the meeting by saying both of you need to keep an eye on the situation moving forward.
This conversation should inform the employee you have noticed a pattern and you need to address it. This discussion also must lay the groundwork for future action.
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