For some employers, maintaining a sick leave policy is a very challenging task as most sick leave is unplanned and unscheduled. The most challenging part that employers experience is when employees are using “sick” hours for non sick purposes. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 30% of employees have called in “sick” when not actually sick. Sick days, legitimate or otherwise, also become more frequent around the winter holidays, with nearly one-third of employers reporting more employees call in sick during the holiday season.
Now, we all know that when an employee calls in sick, it can be frustrating from a departmental perspective but some of the reasons for calling in can be pretty creative and sometimes just down right funny. Below are some of the most interesting reasons that CareerBuilder discovered when surveying employers:
- Employee’s sobriety tool wouldn’t allow the car to start;
- Employee forgot he had been hired for the job;
- Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown;
- Employee’s dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation;
- Employee’s toe was stuck in a faucet;
- Employee said a bird bit her;
- Employee was upset after watching “The Hunger Games”;
- Employee got sick from reading too much;
- Employee was suffering from a broken heart; and
- Employee’s hair turned orange from dying her hair at home.
Albeit, the list above is entertaining but the question still remains; how does an employer curb this trend without taking benefits away from employees who utilize sick hours appropriately? One suggestion is to consider moving from the traditional separate sick/vacation leave banks to a commonly used PTO (Paid Time Off) leave bank. Sick leave hours often have particular criteria attached for the hours to be approved but some employees abuse this and get around the system. This ultimately creates a morale issue among other problems.
By moving to a PTO bank, you allow the employees to manage their time off on their own. PTO would encompass time off for sick purposes, vacations, and everything in between. By allowing the employees to manage their own time off without specific criteria, you eliminate the need for working the system altogether. Now, you would still need an attendance policy in conjunction with your PTO policy as the PTO policy doesn’t address attendance issues that will most definitely arise. Bradshaw adopted a PTO leave system at the beginning of 2013 and what we are seeing is that our employees “call in” less and feel that they have freedom to utilize/schedule their PTO as they choose without being questioned.
The only constant is change so consider this as a change for 2013! If you have questions about the transition, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.