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The Complete Payroll Blog

How to a Handle an Employee That's Abusing Your Sick Leave Policy

Posted by Complete Payroll | Mar 16, 2018 7:01:00 AM

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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.

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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:

Topics: Labor law, Employees, Human resources, Time and labor

Written by Complete Payroll

We do payroll, HR, timekeeping and more for employers all over the country from a small, rural town in Upstate New York. And we're constantly publishing articles and other resources to help business owners, HR managers or anyone that helps manage a workforce. Welcome to Payroll Country!

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