Does your pest management operation have a formal sick leave policy in place? Having rules about taking sick leave can deter some employees from taking ‘sickies’.

The classic ‘sickie’ is part of Australian working folklore, and while most people can honestly admit to chucking the occasional one, some will stretch the limits of their employers by frequently taking sick days for vague or elusive reasons. In some cases, it can get to the point where they are no longer reliably showing up to work.

While sick leave is a legitimate entitlement, and many people genuinely need that time to manage their health or chronic conditions, what do you do if you suspect an employee is misusing their sick leave? While no-one can be expected to be in tip-top health all the time, unchecked sick leave misuse can turn into a serious business issue.

Sick or sickie?

The majority of full-time employees, other than those working on a casual basis, can take ten days of paid sick and carer’s leave for each year of continuous work. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount of leave based on the number of hours worked. It’s important your employees are aware of their entitlements, especially those employed in smaller pest control businesses.

Do you have a sick leave policy?

Having a sick leave policy means your staff will be less likely to misuse it. This may include ensuring they verbally inform you if they intend to take a sick day (texts or emails don’t cut it) and a doctor’s certificate required for any extra sick days over and above the set amount provided.

Making employees accountable for their sick days makes them think twice about misusing it. And for staff who genuinely need the time o , meeting these parameters shouldn’t be a problem.

While policies and procedures give you a framework to follow, sometimes a more personal and gentler approach can do the trick. If you’re genuinely concerned that an employee is misusing their sicks days, the best option in the first instance is to pull them aside for a chat. “Hi John/Jane, I noticed that you’ve been taking a lot of sick time lately. Have you been feeling okay?” A sentence as simple as that can start an honest and open conversation with your employee about their sick leave, and their health more generally.

There may be legitimate underlying reasons for them taking such frequent sick days. They could be caring for someone or going through a treatment that leaves them feeling unwell. Or going through mental health or relationship problems they haven’t felt comfortable raising with you. In those cases, other leave options could be made available to them, or even flexible working arrangements that could allow them to manage their workload and hours differently without taking sick leave at all.

While serial sick days can be frustrating, you do have options and tools to make sure your business isn’t unnecessarily impacted.

If you need a hand developing and delivering a sick leave policy for your workplace, Employsure can lend a hand. Give them a call or visit their website for more information.

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