Dealing with members of staff who ‘pull a sickie’

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With the summer finally upon us and the Euro 2016 football tournament well under way, employers across the UK are likely to encounter an increasing number of staff ‘pulling a sickie’.

Unpredictable and irregular time off can have a serious impact on an organisation’s wellbeing – particularly when repeat offenders are involved.

This could be due to the redistribution of work around colleagues, which can increase business costs through overtime and place unexpected pressure on already busy staff.

“Absence in the UK is a serious business, with estimates putting the cost as high as £29billion a year,” says Adrian Lewis, Director of Activ Absence.

“UK businesses are already struggling to compete in an international playing field. It is vital that UK businesses tackle every hurdle that makes us uncompetitive, and this £29bn would certainly make an impact.”

Dealing with a member of staff ‘pulling a sickie’ can be difficult, as the absence could be symptomatic of a deeper issue with that particular employee.

Managers are advised to hold regular reviews with each team member, identifying each employee’s individual issues and needs and ensuring that employees always feel heard.

Some employees see sickness absence as a way to get back at their employer, if, for example, they have a grievance about their work.Other staff regard sickness absence as an entitlement to supplement holidays.

In our experience, having a robust sickness policy assists in the discouraging of malingering or staff using sickness absence as a workplace device.The policy needs to spell out in very clear terms how sickness absence is treated and monitored and that medical input will be obtained at an early stage.It should also provide for the employer keeping in frequent contact during any period of sickness and for return to work interviews.The policy needs to make very clear that “malingering” is extremely serious misconduct and could result in dismissal.

But sadly even the best policies do not prevent most employers suffering from ‘sickie’ syndrome from time to time.

For advice on all Employment Law issues, please contact Richard Gvero, Joint Senior Partner and Head of Employment law.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.