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The Myth of Sick Time Abuse

May 16, 2017

 

What is the true cost of employees who take paid sick time and are (cough, cough) questionably sick?  It may be the opposite of what you think.

 

For small to mid-size employers, the administrative costs can outweigh the time and productivity missed from absent workers. The compliance record keeping can become especially burdensome when using the 1 hour sick time earned for every 30 hours worked.

 

Aside from paperwork and tracking, an employer's reputation and employee morale can be significantly affected by the suspicious attitude many employers take when employees call in sick.  That is why 90% of your employees come in to work when they are sick.

 

Take the example of a food service worker that informed her boss that she was feeling too ill to work after 2 hours in to her shift.  The manager told the employee that she didn't have anyone else to cover the shift and therefore she was asked to stay until a replacement could be found.  It took 5 hours.  When the employee reached the clinic after leaving work, she was told she had a communicable illness.  Obviously, the other employees learned of the poor treatment and soon customers of the deli did too.  Talk about cost to the business!

 

In a less obvious example, a new employee came down with the flu within their first 30 days after hire and was told they needed to go unpaid.  Although more senior members of management had similar illnesses and were paid, this employee felt that his boss frowned upon the request to stay home to recover and he was treated differently.  So much for the new hire honeymoon.

 

Word travels fast.  Disgruntled employees do not think twice about venting on social media.  Consider the current employee who trembles each time they need to ask for time to take their child for a checkup.  Glassdoor is littered with companies who regularly treat their employees like robots and appear inconvenienced by any request for time off.  It's called Presenteeism and the fallout is damaging American workers.

 

After the recession of 2008, statistics show that U.S. workers are taking less time off from vacation to sick time.  They feel that their attendance is tied to how their performance is viewed.  In this technological age where the majority of workers can work from home, this North American trend is shockingly uninformed.

 

The social impact of single parents sending sick children to school or not caring to the health of their families is a cost we all bear as well.  Health costs rise for all of us when people turn to emergency room visits as a result of not having paid sick days.  Let's just ponder the healthcare and food service workers that show up to work ill.  Makes me shudder to think about.

 

Next time your employee calls in sick or schedules that wellness appointment, be supportive.  Take time to express concern or support for their attempts to be healthy. Aside from showing that you are an ethical, compassionate human being, your company will profit from it.  If you don't, your most valuable assets may just get sick of you.

 

 

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