Winter is my favourite time of the year, but with winter usually comes the winter ills. For some businesses, managing absences can be challenging. Even trickier is managing a sick employee who comes to work when they shouldn’t!

Sick employees are not productive, the risk of making mistakes increases, and they can potentially make other employees and your clients sick.

So what can you do if you’re faced with this situation?
There’s the proactive approach, which is the ideal way to go, but all too often employers find themselves in reactive mode, having to manage as best they can.

You shouldn’t be afraid to send an employee home if they’re obviously unwell and not functioning at work or have the potential to make others sick. The trick is to talk with them and explain why you need them to head home. We all get a fresh supply of sick leave every year and it’s designed to help in these situations. If an employee is worried about not being paid (because they have no sick leave) then discuss a plan with them:
• maybe they’re not far away from their sick leave anniversary so you could agree to advance a day or two
• maybe they can spread the unpaid time over 2 or more pays
• maybe they can do a small amount of work from home

I’m not in favour of using annual leave to cover sick leave, but in a difficult situation this could be an option. It certainly shouldn’t be the norm.
Side note: you can’t make the decision to use annual leave; your employee needs to make the request.

If you’re looking to be proactive, then developing a wellness policy for your business is a good start. At People in Mind, ours is fairly simple. We pay for a flu injection if anyone wants one, and no one is expected to come to work if they’re sick. Other wellness initiatives popular with our clients include gym memberships and medical/health insurance. Some of our clients give more than the minimum 5 days a year and others manage extra leave on a case-by-case basis. A wellness policy might also address your expectations (as an employer) around attending work if someone on your team is sick.

If you need help addressing a sick leave matter, give us a call 07 823 3250. We love helping our clients work through the tricky aspects of being an employer.