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Serial Sickies – What Do You Do With An Employee Who Always Calls In Sick?

Published September 28, 2018 (last updated June 25, 2020) -
Serial Sickies Employees

Serial Sickies – what do you do with an employee who always calls in sick?

The classic ‘sickie’. It’s part of Australian working folklore, and while most people can honestly admit to ‘chucking’ the occasional sickie, others can stretch the limits of their employers by frequently taking sick days for vague or elusive reasons. In some cases it can get to the point where they are no longer reliably showing up to work.
Personal leave, also known as sick leave, is a legitimate entitlement, and many people genuinely need that time to manage their health or chronic conditions — both mental and physical. In those cases employees should be fully supported via the applicable employment entitlements.

But what if you suspect an employee is misusing their personal leave?

Let’s take a look at personal leave, and what you can do to make sure it’s being used properly.

Know Your Current Obligations

All of your full-time employees, other than those working on a casual basis, are entitled to paid sick and carer’s leave; while part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rated amount of leave based on the number of hours worked.

It is important to have a robust Personal Leave Policy. The stronger your policies around personal leave, the less likely staff are to misuse it.

Document everything

If your aim is to potentially take action against an employee who is taking frivolous sick days, then suspicion alone isn’t enough. Acting on a hunch leaves you exposed to an Unfair Dismissal claim and the Fair Work Commission takes a dim view of employers who act without following proper process.

Start the conversation

“Hi John/Jane, I noticed that you’ve been taking a lot of personal leave lately. Have you been feeling ok?”

With a sentence as simple as that, you can start an honest and open conversation with an employee about their sick leave, and their health more generally. While policy and procedure give you a framework to follow, sometimes a more personal and gentler approach can do the trick.

While serial sick days can be a frustration for employers, you do have options and tools to make sure your business isn’t unnecessarily impacted. Book a free workplace check here to discuss your options with an Employsure representative.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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