Skiving off work

  • Leave and Absence
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Read our article: 'How to deal with a skiving employee'. Contact us today for more information about our Employment Law, Health & Safety, and HR services.

Every employer wants their employees to work hard. So when an employee isn't fulfilling their job role you need to address it fast.

When a staff member skives it can create problems for you and your business. If an employee tries to call in sick or walk in late each morning you can experience a drop in productivity. This can lead to missed deadlines which can put pressure on colleagues and other staff members.

In this guide, we'll look at what skiving is, how it impacts business, and how to deal with it in your workplace.

What does skiving off work mean?

Skiving is when an employee avoids doing work. They may do this by leaving work early, calling in sick or doing the bare minimum while in the workplace.

To avoid being caught, employees may come up with a range of excuses or lies to avoid detection. Examples of excuses include:

  • Faking an illness to regularly call in sick.
  • Claiming car trouble or traffic during their commute.
  • Repeated childcare issues or problems with the school run.
  • Spending time in the toilet to avoid doing work.
  • Taking a long lunch without informing their line manager.

Some employees may even ask a colleague or friend to clock in for them or turn on their laptop or computer. By doing so they may be able to look as if they are working elsewhere.

What are the effects of employees skiving off work?

When an employee chooses to skive work it can have a knock-on effect on businesses. This can include issues such as unhappy customers and missed deadlines.

Let's explore the effects in more detail.

Lower productivity

When an employee misses work, it's harder for them to meet their targets. If they're always calling in sick or hiding in the toilet then it's harder for them to carry out the responsibilities of their job.

Lower productivity and poor performance can lead to lower profits that can affect your business's bottom line. That's why it's important for managers to make note of any skiving behaviour. This evidence can help them put a stop to it and avoid repeat incidents.

Employee burnout

When an employee skives it's often their colleagues that are left to cover their workload. This can lead to work being shared unevenly around the rest of your team.

When this happens employees can quickly become burnt out. The added pressure can lead to lower levels of employee engagement, morale and a toxic workplace culture. Your staff could then face mental or physical exhaustion.

Increased turnover

A strong company workforce is a great asset for any business. But if one employee isn't pulling their weight you may end up wearing out the rest of your staff.

When employees are unhappy they are more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. This can lead to high levels of employee turnover.

If this happens, employers should expect high recruitment costs. They will also have to invest more time and money into training new members of staff. This can lead to hours and money being lost on admin which can be damaging during busy business periods.

How to manage employees skiving

Sometimes it's easy for an employee to hide their skiving behaviour. Other times it's obvious to both their line manager and colleagues.

No matter the severity of the issue it's important that you address these situations as they happen.

Let's explore how to manage employees skiving off work.

Create a policy that covers skiving

What some employees may consider acceptable behaviour, you may see as misconduct. It's important to ensure that your workforce knows what is expected of them.

This can include how many hours they are expected to work each week (either in the office, workplace or remotely). And what they should do if they are unable to meet these requirements.

You can outline this as part of your absence procedure. For example, how employees can report absence or lateness. Having a uniform approach can ensure that all incidents of suspected skiving are monitored to help spot patterns.

Spot the signs

The first thing you need to do is learn how to spot the signs of skiving. Your managers should already be keeping a close watch on your staff. But if an employee is repeatedly showing up late or calling in sick you should ask them to explain why.

It's unlikely for them to say that they simply couldn't be bothered, so try to spot any repeated instances. For example, if they always call in sick after a long weekend, or only seem to have car troubles on a Friday. Addressing the matter is the first step towards dealing with it.

Create manageable objectives

Every job role has objectives that need to be met. How this is done will depend on your company and the industry you're in. For example, a manager may measure how many sales are made per week or how many calls are answered each hour.

Measurable objectives are a great way for an employer to watch employee productivity levels and spot problems. For example, if an employee is failing to meet their objectives despite being consistently in the office. Or if productivity severely drops during the night shift.

There may be valid reasons for this. But it's best to spot them before they become a bigger issue for your company.

Address the issue

An informal chat can go a long way towards solving the issue of skiving. There are many reasons why an employee may choose to skive work. But some circumstances could create a misunderstanding between an employer and their staff.

For example, an employee may:

  • Struggle to sit at a desk for long periods, especially in an office setting.
  • Have undisclosed medical issues that they haven't shared.
  • A sleep disorder that makes timekeeping difficult.
  • Struggle to adapt to a new working pattern, for example, a night shift.
  • Struggle to focus on a computer screen for long periods.
  • Be anxious about their workload and try to avoid the busy workplace.

While objectively these may seem like skiving, they are valid issues that an employee may face. These can be easily resolved with open communication.

For example, if an employee frequently struggles with child care, consider if you could implement flexible working.

Conduct an investigation

Before you point the finger you should conduct a full investigation. Try not to guess the reason for an employee's absence. There may be a simple answer for the conduct that the employee hasn't yet explained.

Be careful making accusations as this could amount to discrimination. Especially if the issues relate to ill health or a disability. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, investigate the situation by talking to those involved. Ensure the process is done fairly and evidence is collected to back up any claims.

Keep records of incidents

If you believe that an employee has been skiving you should document the situation. You should also write up any evidence to support your claim.

Ask your HR representative to make a note of any incidents. These could be small like a staff member chatting away from their desk. Or something more serious like an employee using sick leave to go on holiday.

All of this evidence can help you in the future should you need it. And shows that you followed a fair and complete procedure.

Begin the disciplinary process

Once you have the evidence you need to support your suspicions you can begin your disciplinary procedure. During this process, you can hold a meeting to assess what happened and why.

It may be decided that only minor action is needed following the incident. This could include a verbal or written warning for first-time instances.

However, if this is a repeat offence you may have to consider more formal disciplinary action. This can include a written final warning, demotion or even dismissal.

Get advice on employees skiving off work from Peninsula

As a business owner, company productivity is one of your top priorities. So when employees skive while on the job, this can lead to big problems.

Whether you work in an office or a warehouse, your employees need to know what is expected of them. Or they could soon find themselves walking out the door.

Peninsula offers expert advice on dealing with skiving employees. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Get advice from one of our HR consultants. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 028 2420.


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

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