As an SME, when you get the dreaded call that one of your team is sick – what do you do? Did they actually call or was it received by text? Most small businesses run a very lean team, so having a team member off for a day – or worse still a week – can make for a challenging time. If employees see or perceive a relaxed approach to the management of leave, you are likely to have everyone taking their full entitlements and then some. This is an extremely expensive outcome for the business.
Just to remind you sick leave is now called Personal Leave and this can be used for the individual or for them to care for members of their family such as a child or parent, amongst others.
Here are nine things SMEs need to do to actively manage absenteeism:
1. Keep a record of all Personal Leave accrued and taken – this is one of the greatest financial leakages to a business, where leave records are not accurate and you think an employee has taken eight days when they have actually taken twelve days
2. Analyse leave trends – if it is increasing there is likely to be a reason for this – is morale low? Alternatively, if personal leave is reducing that’s good and will have a very positive impact on your bottom line
3. Implement and adhere to a Personal Leave policy – stating leave entitlements, the process for a leave request and the potential requirement to produce a medical certificate
4. Be supportive of genuine leave requests – where employees require personal leave be supportive. It is a reality that people will be ill – some more so than others and some years will be worse than this one
5. Discourage a ‘presenteeism culture’ – the last thing you want is for sick people to come to work to spread their germs, it will increase the recovery time for the individual put others at risk and potentially reduce the quality of work produced over this period
6. Consider instigating an Annual Leave Purchase Program – this enables people to purchase additional leave – say they want 6 weeks away in Europe. Rather than risk a resignation make this cost effective and a ‘win win’ for both parties
7. Actively manage long term personal leave cases – keep in touch with the employee, keep them in the loop of what is happening in the office and actively work with their medical team to return the employee to the office in a way that compliments the medical advice. Remember you are liable from a ‘duty of care’ perspective, if you don’t manage this carefully
8. Look to develop contingency plans – cross train employees so that leave can be easily covered. When completing resourcing planning allow for 8 weeks per employee to cover off annual leave (4wks), personal leave (2wks) and Public Holidays (11 days for NSW). Consider developing a temp pool of people that know the business and are cost effective and readily available
9. Illegitimate leave – if you have an individual that you suspect is taking illegitimate personal leave – take action, your other employees will thank you for it. No-one likes to be carrying an individual unfairly
Remember personal leave is there for a reason – however if it is not managed carefully it can be very detrimental to your business. How do you manage personal leave? Do you recognise any of the issues above?