Is Your Organisation Sick of Staff 'Chucking Sickies'?

Last Updated May 26, 2010 2:23 AM EDT

According to the recent Direct Health Solutions Absence Management Survey, "chucking a sickie", whether or not for a legitimate reason, costs the Australian economy $21 billion per annum! The average level of employee absenteeism across all sectors is 8.62 days per employee per annum.

It's impossible to say definitively what causes high absenteeism but poor job satisfaction, dislike of a manager, high stress/work load, and plain old office politics are all important factors, in my experience. If the organisation is doing what it can to deal with these concerns, I think employees are more like to make that extra effort to come in. As cliché as it sounds, I do believe a happy worker is a good worker.

Of course, if someone genuinely isn't feeling well they should stay home --- it stops the germs from spreading like wildfire through the office. And taking the time to properly recuperate means they'll come back to work 100 percent. Staff are usually itching to come back as soon as they can --- who can blame them when they have to endure bad daytime TV (is Days of Our Lives still on?).

Is absenteeism a problem in your organisation? Here are some tips I've found to be helpful in our organisation.

  1. Have a fair, uniform and consistent approach to absence --- the same rules should apply to everyone, from management on down.
  2. Be clear on the rules around personal leave. In other words, have a leave policy that details how you would like staff to notify the organisation when calling in sick and specify when medical certificates are to be submitted (according to the Fair Work Act 2010, employers can request proof of illness for every day of absence).
  3. Ask staff to complete leave forms and attach any required medical documentation --- the employee's signature acknowledges that they've taken sick leave and their manager's signature is approving the legitimacy of that leave.
  4. In the leave policy detail grounds where failure to comply with the leave policy may result in disciplinary action, and what that disciplinary action is.
What is the situation like where you work? Do you have any tips to add?
  • Melissa Lourenco

    Melissa is the HR manager for CBS Interactive (CBSi) in Australia. She graduated from the University of Sydney, majoring in Human Resource Management and prior to joining CBSi worked in a variety of generalist HR roles. When not wearing the HR/UN hat, she likes to curl up on the couch with her e-book, add/rearrange songs on her iPod, go to the movies and play the odd RPG on her PC. If you have questions or comments for Mel, send them to hr@cnet.com.au.