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5 Steps to Reduce 'Sickies' in Your Workplace

Let’s face it, as the days are getting colder and the ice on our cars is getting thicker, it's definitely a struggle to get into work mode and adult. The struggle is most certainly real when the alarm goes off at 5am. As a Business Solutions Provider, we have noticed a higher rate of people calling in sick as the degrees are dropping. Unfortunately, in Australia ‘taking a sickie’ has become a part of many workplace cultures. The mentality around ‘sickies’ is that they are an entitlement – which they are, people employed on a full-time basis are entitled to ten days of accrued personal/carer's leave per year which enables them to take time off of work when they or one of their immediate family members is sick or injured.

However, often in workplaces there are individuals who abuse the system and will take a ‘sickie’ when they just don’t want to leave their bed. Despite the fact that many managers assume that they cannot take any action against employees who they suspect are abusing their personal leave entitlements, there are steps that businesses can take to address the potential issues. 

So let’s break down 5 steps that businesses can take to reduce the rate of sickies taken in the workplace.

01: Ensure that the business has a procedure in place for when an employee needs to call in sick. Some companies set expectations such as; 

a) Calling your employer/manager/site manager with a minimum notice period set with text messages and emails being unacceptable. (it is a lot more confronting having to pick up the phone and speak to your boss and also so much harder to fake being sick when you have to verbalise what’s wrong with you)

b) Depending on the type of employment or type of sector that you are in, some Employees can request that if you are absent, you are required to replace your shift. (This again would put anyone off calling in sick just for the sake of it)

02: Check your Employment Contracts to see if it is a requirement to produce a medical certificate and for how many days. Generally speaking, businesses do not put a requirement in place for medical certificates to be presented for one day. 

Though, two or more days in a row or the days before or following a public holiday will come with the expectation. Under ‘Notice & Medical Certificates’ on the Fair Work website, it stays that “an employee who doesn’t give their employer evidence when asked may not be entitled to be paid for their sick or carers leave. 

03: Try and avoid making it so easy for employees to find out their accrued leave details.

Although it is best practice to supply leave details on payslips; according to Fair Work, it is not actually a requirement. Though, if an employee asks for their accrued leave you do have to disclose the information. If an employee is unable to see the total hours that they have accumulated in leave entitlements, it may deter them from calling in sick if not for a genuine reason.

04: Ensure that your policies and procedures are comprehensive and that all employees have been required to sign off on reading and understanding them.

If you provide your employees with sufficient information and also expectations around leave in your workplace, you should eliminate the abuse of calling in sick.

05: If you have a feeling that an employee is being disingenuous about an absence from work, attempt to ascertain the reason. 

For example, is the reason stemming from an issue at work? Maybe their workload is too big, or they are involved in a conflict with colleagues. If you are able to get to the bottom of why there are absences from work due to an issue in the workplace, you will be able to decrease the rate of absenteeism. 

Are there any other systems that you have in place? Or do you have any tips for your fellow business owners when it comes to reducing the rate of ‘sickies’ in the workplace?

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