There are two outstanding types of employees when flu or virus season is upon us. One is the “sickie taker”, the other the “workplace warrior”.
The sickie taker is the individual who takes a sick day progressing on to long weekends and public holidays or after. This type can be bad news for lots of reasons but principally morale, as other employees must cover the work load left by the sick leave takers absence. Further, productivity is decreased as the work to be done by a healthy employee is not getting done. Finally, the employee concerned ends up with a negative leave balance when they are sick and must take unpaid leave which usually leads to financial hardship for the employee and that is not in anyone’s interests.
The workplace warrior type refuses to acknowledge they are sick engaging in what is known as ‘Presenteeism.’ The effects of this are:
Everyone else gets sick too as the infection is carried across the workplace.
Morale takes a dive as the issue is discussed and aspersions are cast.
Productivity is reduced as work quality is diminished and sub-par because the employee is not well, resulting in work having to be re-done or taking longer than usual.
Develop or review existing policy on sick leave setting out the procedures for taking sick leave and the employers expectations. Applying for sick leave and circumstances where evidence, like a doctor’s certificate, may be required.
To deter sickie takers the policy might include;
That evidence can be requested on any occasion but will always be required when sick leave is claimed directly before or after weekends and public holidays.
The workplace warrior is the type who looks with disdain on people who take sick leave soldiering on despite being a risk to themselves and others in the workplace by risk of infection.
To deter this type of employee, the policy could state that;
In the interests of workplace health and safety, an employer might require an employee to leave work and take sick leave if the employer reasonably believes the employee poses a risk to the health of others.
Communicate with employees regarding the policy and discuss their obligations and the expectations of the business when it comes to the taking of sick leave.
Understand and utilise the law to implement policy:
The Fair Work Act sets out the requirements that an employee must comply with to access their sick leave entitlement.
Ensure the employees understand the employer has the authority to direct an employee in the conduct of their work, including to leave the workplace if they pose a health and safety risk.