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How To Deal With Employees That Call In Sick When Their Leave Request Is Not Approved

Published October 25, 2016 (last updated on June 27, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

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Chances are you have experienced this before. An employee tries to book time off work, yet due to your business demands they are unable to secure the necessary time off, so they call in sick. How should you respond to this?

The reality of this situation is that the employee may have lied to you and this can impact on the implied term of trust and confidence that is an important element for the employee-employer relationship. You have refused their leave request for a reason – maybe you already reached the cap of leave for that period and therefore their absence would impact on the efficiency of your business, and the employee may have aggravated the situation.

The most important protocol is to ensure that your workplace policies reflect rules that deter employees from falsely claiming sickness.

Conduct a return to work interview, which should be the normal practice with all sickness absences. This will give you the opportunity to probe the employee on the reasons for their absence. Consistent return to work interviews after all absences is a key element because having to face you and explain the details of their ‘illness’ may seem too high a price to pay for the benefit of having a day off. Conducting a return to work interview will also help deter other employees and demonstrates that you take absenteeism seriously. Try not to pre-determine the outcome of your discussion with the employee as there may be sufficient evidence to show that they were actually sick.

Make it a written policy ahead of time that if an employee requests a day off and it is denied, and this employee later comes down ill, a medical certificate will be required the first day they return to work. Ensuring that employees are dealt with appropriately and fairly will send out the message that you take ‘fake’ sickness seriously and potentially deter this employee and other employees from doing it in the future.

Falsely claiming sickness can be a severe breach of your trust and confidence. If an employee frequently falsely claims sickness and does not follow the set policies and procedures set out for your business, you can seek advice from a Peninsula specialist. It is important to follow procedural fairness before any decision is made about an employee’s dismissal.

As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, we can assist you with ensuring workplace has the appropriate sick leave and annual leave policies and procedures. Call us today on 1300 651 415 if you have any questions relating to workplace policies or grounds for dismissal.

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