Virtually every employer we work with offers its employees a certain amount of time off represented as sick days, personal days, and vacation time. This is standard operating procedure in the U.S. As such, there are going to be certain times throughout the year when it seems like a lot of employees are taking time off. The challenge for immediate supervisors and mid-level managers is finding that balance between allowing employees to time away and keeping time off from getting out of control.
Out-of-control time off is essentially absenteeism. Make no mistake; absenteeism is quite different from employees taking allowed time off for sickness, vacation, personal reasons, or to address health or family issues. Absenteeism in the workplace is defined by the Oxford Living Dictionaries as "the practice of regularly staying away from work or school without good reason."
The key to this definition is "without good reason". Employers may offer their employees a certain number of personal days off with pay, but employees are under no obligation to use those days. Furthermore, the intent of providing paid personal days is not to allow workers to go fishing or sit at home playing video games. The original intent of the personal day was to allow a worker to address an issue that would be difficult to address during normal, non-working hours.
If time off is getting out of control in your organization, you may be dealing with chronic absenteeism. Here's what you can do about it:
1. Review Company Policies
First and foremost, review your company's policies regarding time off. If those policies are either vague or too lenient, the management team may have to rework them to bring them more in line with current expectations. Policies should be printed and distributed to employees at such time as they are deemed to be acceptable to management.
2. Review Federal and State Laws
Updating or clarifying company policies should always be done in light of federal and state laws. One particular law that is quite applicable here is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), one of the signatures laws signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The FMLA entitles qualified workers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year without risk of losing their jobs.
3. Meet with Employees
Immediate supervisors may want to consider meeting with workers whose absences seem excessive. Such meetings should not be confrontational in any way. Instead, supervisors should seek to better understand what is going on to see if anything can be done to address the issue. Sometimes just knowing that supervisors are paying attention is enough to cut down on absenteeism.
4. Honestly Evaluate the Work Environment
Lastly, chronic absenteeism is often a sign that employees really don't want to come to work every day. It is an indication that the work environment is such that people are trying to stay away as much as possible without losing pay. And in some cases, a work environment can be so bad that employees would rather stay home even if it means losing a day's wages.
Chronic absenteeism should be a red flag that tells employers to step back and honestly evaluate the work environment. If employees are genuinely unhappy, management should find ways to change things. Creating a positive work environment that employees actually want to be part of can all but eliminate absenteeism.
BenefitMall is here to help your company with all things payroll and benefits related. If we can help you streamline your payroll department, we would be more than happy to do so.
Oxford Living Dictionaries – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/absenteeism