HR Hartley

Discarding sick pay is not the remedy

People get sick. It is a fact of life. Our bodies are engines and they are
subject to breaking down once in a while. So the idea of sweeping away sick pay
altogether is just crazy.

What would you rather have? Sick people staggering into the office or factory
to liberally spread their germs around, under-perform and wheeze over
customers, or sick people who stay at home until they get better and can get
back to doing a good job?

Of course there are people who say they’re sick when they’re not. There are
people who take a day off in the name of illness to watch the footie, go
skydiving, or get over a hangover – a smattering of people without a
conscience, who feel someone else owes them a living. But in my 25 years of
working experience, it is only the minority who are out to take advantage of
their employers.

So why punish the majority, the goodies? If HR is concerned about sick leave
– and the truckload of correspondence about the subject in this magazine alone
indicates that we are – then we need to do more to deter the baddies.

For starters, there’s the usual: employment contracts should clearly state
how many sick days a person is entitled to, and when someone needs a doctor’s
certificate as proof of illness. But maybe we should also challenge serial sickie-throwers,
for example, and train managers to stand up to them. We could state that our
sick leave policy will not be abused, and how we will measure abuse. We could
introduce ’emergency days’ that allow staff to legitimately take a day off to
deal with an unexpected occurrence. Because there must be other ways around
this problem.

Hartley is an HR director at large

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