Whenever I speak to employers they seem frustrated when employees call in sick, suspicions begin to arise that reasons stated may not be genuine. Whilst it is easy to think this we should be careful not to jump to a conclusion unless you have clear evidence and even then you need to act with caution. I strongly suggest that you implement a clear policy from the start, ensure that when your employees call in sick they are aware of what your policy dictates. In addition when an employee makes a call to report they will be absent from work due to sickness that they make the call themselves rather than relying on a family member. Ask the employee to provide details of why they are absent, if they have seen their doctor, booked an appointment and what their expected return to work date will be. Also discourage them from leaving a message with a colleague, they need to speak with their line manager in order to report absenteeism. Once the employee returns ensure that you conduct a ‘return to work’ interview - and conduct this quickly. This ensures that the individual is fit enough to return to work, whilst secondly it gives a clear message that, as a business, you treat absenteeism seriously.
It is worth noting that most employees who take time off work are of course absent for genuine reasons. Employees absent from work for long periods of time may well wonder what colleagues think about their absence and how it will impact working relationships. You will need to reassure the employee prior to returning that reasons for their absence is confidential and will continue to be so. An understanding approach is essential in order to encourage the individual to return to work.
Finally remember when dealing with long term absenteeism, allowing a problem to fester may make it more difficult for the employee to return to work and resolve the situation satisfactory, so early intervention is encouraged and watertight policies and procedures that govern absenteeism are essential.
If you need any clarification on this issue then please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.