Dear NPLI Management Solutions,
We offer paid sick leave to all of our employees; however, some of our supervisors are beginning to suspect some employees of abusing this benefit. How can we make sure employees are really using sick leave because they are too sick to work and not because they just want to be paid for time off?
RESPONSE: Simply stated, if your company offers its employees X number of paid sick days per year, then the employees have a right to use them. Questioning the validity of an employee’s use of their sick leave can be problematic. Here’s a suggestion: Focus less on whether an employee is using sick leave for legitimate sickness. Instead, focus on the actual problem.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Here are a few questions to consider:
• When Employee A uses X number of sick leave days during a month, what are the specific negative outcomes?
• Is the organization, department, unit, etc. impacted negatively? If so how?
• Are other employees impacted negatively? If so how?
HAVE A CONVERSATION
Once the problem is identified, then the supervisor or manager should have a conversation with the employee – NOT about the legitimacy of their reasons for being out sick but about the need for the company, department, unit, etc. to have a reliable person in the position for which the employee holds.
• Be Specific by clearly defining “reliable” as it relates to the employee’s current position and the needs of company, department, unit, etc. For instance, “reliable” may mean less than 2 unscheduled absences per month.
• Get a Commitment (if possible) from the employee as to whether or not they will make a sincere effort to reduce the number of unexcused absences per month to less than 2 per month (for instance).
• Explain Consequences. For instance, the position must be held by someone who others can count on to come to work, ready and on time everyday – except for rare exceptions. If this employee is unable to improve their attendance, then the company will need to fill the position with someone who can.
• Document the conversation
• Monitor & immediately address any/all future unscheduled absences. Aim for solutions that are fair and reasonable for the employee and the company.
During this conversation, be sure to adhere to any/all relevant state and federal laws including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).