I’m a manager in a female dominated profession that serves some of the most vulnerable in our society. March 8 is a protest day in the United States called a Day Without Women. From employee lounge and other overheard hallway conversations, I’ve learned that many of my co-workers plan to be absent on this day and call in “sick.” We have separate vacation and sick time banks. One of my employees has put in for a vacation day on March 8; I have no idea if this is related to the protest or not. When I look at the payroll system, very few employees have put in for vacation on March 8. I expect that there will be multiple sick day call-ins that day.
I have no issue with the protest day itself, and I get that the point is to disrupt the typical work day to showcase the many contributions women make. It will be a struggle to cover everyone who calls in sick that day; my organization will cope, but we’ll ultimately be creating additional work for ourselves over the following week or so as those we did not adequately serve on March 8 get shifted to future days. There may also be a point at which we close our office (we are open to the public on a walk-in basis as well) because we may not meet minimum staffing requirements.
My question is whether I/my organization can require employees who call in sick that day to bring in a doctor’s note affirming that they were actually ill and eligible for a sick day on March 8? Our policy says that we can ask for a note at our discretion, but would this be discrimination? Even if we asked everyone who calls in sick on March 8, male or female? Anyone who can not/does not bring in a note would be charged a vacation day instead.
I’d like to bring this to our director and the other managers so we can have a uniform plan to address this, thanks for your guidance!
I think this is sticky and so I want my readers to respond as well. Please respond readers!
But, here’s what I would recommend: Tell your staff that you love and appreciate them, and that you know how much good they do. But, that said, because you serve people who are in need, having call outs would be damaging to your clientele. Therefore, if anyone calls out sick on March 8, they will need a doctor’s note, otherwise, the absence will be counted towards their vacation.
Frankly, I think you’re being bend-over-backwards generous in allowing them to use a vacation day and not counting it as an unexcused absence. You know your people better than I do, however.
Readers, what say you?