5 Tips for a Stronger Sick Leave Policy

According to United Press International, 37 percent of Americans say they would go to work sick because they lack a sick leave policy that allows them to take time off to recover. At least 25 percent actually do show up sick.

Sure, you might think it’s great to have employees that want to work so hard they’ll work while sick, but one sick employee can wreak havoc on your workplace. A mild fever and cough for one employee can land another in the hospital. If the flu takes hold, you can end up with many people out for weeks. Talk about lost productivity and increased health care costs!

You need a sick leave policy, but even that might not be enough. You need bosses who encourage people to stay home when they are sick and bosses that stay home themselves. Here are some tips for a stronger sick leave policy.

 To keep reading, click here: 5 Tips for a Stronger Sick Leave Policy

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10 thoughts on “5 Tips for a Stronger Sick Leave Policy

  1. This should be required reading for every.single.manager in every single profession.

    I have been told to change a surgery date (thank goodness it was “voluntary surgery” to repair major joint damage and not emergency surgery) because the date my Dr. wanted to do it “didn’t work with our manpower needs”. I have been badgered to come in when I was so physically ill I could not stand without vomiting. I have been told to bring a doctor’s note over strep throat. Same industry, three separate employers, small-medium-huge, not in order. I am an exempt professional employee who HAS paid time off. In every one of those cases, my paid time off did not roll over nor get paid out.

    Yes, you read that correctly. I was an exempt employee who had to argue to actually use her own paid time off when I was actually ill or injured.

    Something needs to change, yesterday.

    1. Right. There are millions of us. I once fainted in my CEO’s office (flu). The next day she called me at home wondering why I wasn’t in. This is a 250+ employee, multi-national.

      P.S. After 14 years, the last three of which I didn’t take any vacation or sick time, I was terminated, one month before I qualified for a paid, 60 day, sabbatical.

  2. This goes beyond sick leave, but one good thing my employer — a Federal agency — does is to have annual immunization fairs at the workplace, at which employees can get their flu, pneumonia and shingles shots. The shots are administered by personnel from local drugstores that offer immunizations. Our health insurance pays all the costs. The records are maintained — and can be obtained from — the drugstores (Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, etc.) As a result, most employees have up-to-date immunizations, and there are fewer workplace “epidemics.” That being said, some locations in our agency are bad about giving employees a hard time if they use a lot of their earned sick leave. We earn 4 hours every 2 weeks, but an employee who actually used that much sick leave would probably be hassled about it.

    1. Definitely a perk at larger employers: the nurse who can give shots etc ‘on location.’

    2. Just makes the case for remote working even stronger.

      We work with a lot of tech firms and increasingly we see them offering the chance for staff to work from home – at least part of the time.

  3. Those tips listed are common sense reasoning but in most work positions, the only thing the employers want to here is job is getting done, especially if you are the productive worker whose absence creates a void. Those low productive employees can take all the time they want because they usually give the most hassles if refused.
    On top of this insult, the US has the worse representation for providing sick time off, especially if it is paid time off. Okay some states have started PLA laws, but not all, especially for women. It is assumed that all women have a male backup in household who pays the bills anyway Bad enough, we don’t even get equal pay.
    We are still back in the dark ages as far as paid sick time off..

  4. Great ideas Suzanne!

    And, I’m glad you made these as suggestions to employers instead of calling on the government to solve this problem.

    In my opinion, pass all the laws you want – they won’t always make things better. Often times, more laws cost jobs or they create an adversarial relationship between employers and employees.

    In my opinion, the best cure to “employers behaving badly” isn’t more laws – it is more competition.

    With employees having more options, employers will want to make them stick around. (And that means creating the rules that you have suggested!)

    In other words, with a robust economy if an employer doesn’t treat staff well they will lose them to the competition down the street.

    I’m seeing this happen right now. Many of the temp agencies that I worked for during the Obamanation years are now having trouble filling spots that used to have dozens of “I need that lousy pay with no benefits” job. Why are they having trouble filling these slots? Because, within the last year, the economy here in the US has taken off. Many companies are hiring full-time, with good pay and good benefits, employees. The temp agencies and the companies that used to only hire that way are losing the good employees to those employers who treat them better.

  5. So when working with executives to try to instill such policies, what do you recommend? The obvious counter (especially in very small business) is that the work still needs to get done. So how can small businesses (who often suffer when key employees are out of the office, even working remotely) ease this pain?

    1. So, you lose one person for a couple of days or you have that person come in, work at half strength, and then infect 3 other people, who then infect the remaining staff.

      That sounds like a bad idea.

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