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So many employers put up with chronic absenteeism or excessive sick leave, because they feel sorry for staff, or because they don’t know what to do.

Read this and find out what to do.


We have recently taken on another staff member – has been here for 3 months so far.

He’s had 3 random days off “Sick” without any proper explanation. His reason: he is ‘ill’ or he is not ‘feeling well’.

We find this quite worrying as we are a small business. Everyone’s noticed it.

I am starting to see a pattern now as the explanations are not good enough. I’m worried it is going to be a recurring thing and with our busiest period not far ahead – and the reason we’ve employed him. We really cannot afford to have someone off this often.

What techniques can be used to reduce this sick rate?

If this carries on, what rights would I have to terminate?

HRLADY's profession (non-legal) advice

Absenteeism is when a person stays away from work repeatedly or habitually over a period of time, without good reason

This is worrying to their manager – you.

And it should be.

Worse. It’s contagious!

 For some reason, managers often avoid addressing it. I think it’s just because you don’t know what to do. Some say it’s because of the complexity of the law. All I know is that not dealing with it, makes it worse. Not what you want to hear…but true!

What to do?

First, the rule, then the enforcement of the rule.

The Rule: Make a rule about absenteeism – define it in your handbook or employment agreement, under misconduct. (No, it’s NOT serious misconduct).  If you subscribe here, you can have the guide and the clause for free.

Enforcement: Every time a person is away from work, (legitimately or not), you should have a quick chat (call it an interview) on the day of their return to work. Use the free form that comes with the free guide.

This may seem ridiculous or overkill. It’s not.  It’s all about awareness. Inspect what you expect. If absenteeism is really an issue for you, this will very quickly sort it out.

Not only does the person who was absent, get 1:1 attention, the other staff know that it’s been noticed and dealt with.

This way everyone knows that you are all over this thing.

And yes, if you follow rule 1 and 2, and the behaviour continues, you’ll eventually be able to terminate.

Get the knowledge and skill to deal with absenteeism properly. Once and for all. Build your experience and confidence. This will stop the worry, because the absenteeism will stop happening.  

The dream: every employee comes to work as expected, reliably. That’s what you want, isn’t it? You want to know that they’ll be at work, when you expect them to be.

Dependable.  Yes, it’s not too much to ask.

Look, if a person is genuinely sick, they should have the chance to take time off to recuperate. They’re not the problem. It’s the people who abuse the system!

Time to dealt with it. It’s not hard when you know what to do. Like anything, you must just do it.

We contacted Melony to help with new employment agreement and to get a handbook in place. I instantly felt confident in Melony's knowledge and ability in this field. So many people in small business don't understand HR laws. I would recommend strongly that people attend your workshops.
Debbie, Director
11 Employees

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