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Sickness and absence during the run up to the festive period

Christmas is fast approaching and people across the country will be busy making plans for the festivities and working out what you can and can’t do.

Despite knowing that Christmas comes around at the same time every year, there’s no doubt that you will have last minute issues to consider – and lots of questions to answer. Questions that may concern, time off and holiday entitlements and employees not turning up for work for example.

What do you do if a member of your team decides to ‘throw a sickie’, and how do you handle a potential ‘faker’?

Communicate with your teams – remind your employees what the process is for reporting an absence and make it clear that being hungover is not a valid reason not to show up at work. You want to avoid an employee from saying that they didn’t know who they should contact, would you really accept that as an excuse?

Remember that most people will be genuinely unwell – if an employee is genuinely unwell then they aren’t going to be particularly productive, so it will be better for them to steer clear of the workplace.

Schedule a return to work meeting – if you have an employee who is off sick, either over the festive period or at any point throughout the year, conduct a return to work interview when they return, face-to-face if it isn’t possible for your employee to work from home, or via a video conference call. You can ask them about their illness, what treatment if any was given, and are there any reasonable adjustments that need to be made for them to continue working. If the employee has been absent from work for more than seven working days, you should be asking them for a fit note when they do return.

Social media; the pantomime villain – if an employee does call in sick and checks-in online at their local pub (covid tier-permitting), it’s fair to say that they are probably faking it. This is something that our consultants run into time and time again with our clients. If your employee is well enough to head out to the pub, then this can be used as evidence for an investigation.

Public holiday – for anyone paying a premium to staff who work on a public holiday, the boxing day public holiday this year falls on 28th December and not the 26th.   Be sure to check the wording in your contracts of employment before agreeing what to pay your staff.

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