When you have employees calling out sick every few weeks, it places undue stress on the rest of your staff and affects your entire business. Your first reaction will probably be that the employees are abusing their sick time, and there's a good chance you're right. However, you still have to show some sensitivity and get to the bottom of any issues. You don't want to be accusatory, because there's always the possibility members of your staff could indeed be having serious health issues or a family crisis. Here's how to handle the situation.
Document the days they miss
In order to illustrate that there is a problem with any employees missing too many days of work, you need to document each and every time they call in sick. It also wouldn't hurt to document the work they missed on those days and note whether it affected any other employees who had to pick up the slack.
Talk to them
You should never challenge an employee's sick time in an email or on the phone; that's an HR nightmare in the making. Instead, wait until they return to the office, and then call them in for a one-on-one chat. At this point, you should approach employees with your documentation in a matter-of-fact tone. Explain to them that they were hired to attend work every day and the number of days they have been missing is beginning to add up. Give them a chance to explain what might be going on, and then end the conversation with a recap of what needs to happen going forward.
Monitor, if the problem persists
In most cases, simply letting them know that you notice what they're doing will be enough to clear the problem — at least for the time being. But in many cases, any employees who have a habit of calling out sick will eventually revert to their old ways. After your talk, be patient for a couple of weeks so you can gauge whether the issue is resolved.
Consider mentioning the possibility of hiring a replacement
If you have employees who continue to call in sick, unfortunately you'll have to be a little more authoritative. Have another meeting, and this time, mention that you'll have to find a replacement if he or she can't commit to being at work every day. Ask whether there is some type of serious health issue or life event that should be discussed. Be stern but not aggressive.
Consider terminating their employment
After taking the measures above, you may reach a point where you have to let the employee go, which is why you need to document all sick days from the start.
Whether you're trying to manage a difficult situation or strongly considering firing someone, you may need some help resolving the problem as smoothly as possible. Check out our HR Support Center for more key employee resources, or our NYS Employee Termination Kit if you feel that's your only option left.
For more information and insights into the laws, best practices and complexities around terminating employees, check out our resource page, A Complete Guide to Employee Terminations. It's an all-in-one page that includes thorough insights, instructions and plenty of links to other helpful resources.
Additionally, here are some other articles that focus on the difficult subject of terminating employees:
- How to Script Your Termination Meeting
- Can You Fire An Employee For Something They Did Outside of Work?
- Paying a Terminated Employee Their Last Paycheck
- About Leave of Absence Employee Terminations
- How to Address Alcohol in the Workplace
- How to Measure and Minimize Employee Turnover
- How to Terminate an Employee in New York State
- Can You Terminate an Employee on Leave?
- The Difference Between a Severance Package and a Severance Agreement
- 3 Exceptions to At-Will Employment
- How to Handle an Immediate Employee Termination
- Termination Meetings: Where and When to Conduct the Most Difficult Conversation
- Alternatives to Employee Terminations
- Can You Terminate an Employee Over the Phone?
- Can You Fire An Employee For Something They Said Online?
- How to Inform Your Staff About a Terminated Employee
- When Should You Fire An Intern?
- Can You Fire An Independent Contractor?