Navigating the Grey Area of Employee Absences

Employee absence is usually pretty black and white. You show up or you use one of your vacation or sick days. It’s that simple right? Not quite.

Let’s say one of your employees has a disability and said disability requires frequent visits to the doctor’s office, as well as an above average time away from work for bed rest. Welcome to the grey area of excessive employee absences.

Of course you cannot fire this employee, not only because this would be a legal nightmare, but also because they are a valuable piece to your puzzle. However, the show must go on. So, what do you do when your employees keep missing work?

Set Clear Expectations

Your team should know the absence policy from the beginning. How many vacation days and sick days they have, and what happens if they miss work without using either of these days. If an employee has an excessive amount of excused absences from work, there still needs to be a process set in place to keep up productivity. Do you hire temporary work? Do you allow your absent employee to work remotely from home? Do you need to establish a better means of communication between the absent employee and the team that is helping pick up their workload? Be ready for anything and clear with everything so that your employees understand and never take advantage of your absence policy.

Also be certain to never play favorites. Always treat each individual the same. The only unique cases should be those of employees that have a disability or condition that would require them to frequently miss work.

Get a Doctor’s Note

It’s not too personal or untrusting to require a doctor’s note for any employee who misses work due to medical reasons. Make this part of your policy and make no exceptions.

Be Direct and Talk About It

Pretending like an employee’s excessive absences aren’t a problem is not helping the situation. You have to hold a private meeting with the employee and get things figured out. Don’t assume anything, just figure out the facts through the conversation. There’s nothing disciplinary about it, it’s just figuring out logistics. Be certain that you have all of the facts straight and remember never to bring vacation time into the mix.

Inform the employee of the impact the absences have had on their performance and the company as a whole. Once you both have a better understanding of the situation, work on a solution together. You will be able speak to the company’s needs and the employee will be able to suggest ways in which their unique situation could be accommodated. This is why being clear and emphasizing communication and collaboration is the best way to navigate the grey area of frequent employee absences.

For more management tips or to find your next great Columbus office candidate, technical professional in Savannah, Akron industrial worker or Chicago professional, contact The Reserves Network. TRN has all of the resources of a national provider with the care of a local partner.

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