HR 101: How to Develop a Successful Sick Leave Policy

Photo by Dreamstime
Photo by Dreamstime

One of the many policies human resource departments develop and implement involve employee sick leave.

Paid sick days are usually offered by an organization as part of their benefits package.

  • In some companies, employees are given an allotment of days to use throughout the year.
  • There are other businesses where paid sick days are accrued over the course of the year and can vary based on years of service.
  • Some organizations let unused employee sick days roll over from one year into the next, while others start over in a new year.

There are plenty of options to choose from. The key is to make sure you have a policy in place that works for you and your employees to avoid potential issues that could arise.

Family and Medical Leave Act

When designing a company policy concerning sick leave, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) needs to be part of it.

Details about FMLA can be found here, but in short, it covers employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, spouse, parent or their own care. Their job must be protected during this leave and they continue to receive health insurance as they did prior to the leave.

FMLA is mandated for employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius and covers those employees who have been employed for 12 months.

Consistency

When designing a policy for sick leave, it needs be applied equally to all employees.

If the policy provides a variety of different ways to accrue and use sick leave, it could become an issue. In some cases, this has caused morale problems, increased turnover rates and even resulted in lawsuits.

Schedule

A sick leave policy should have employees schedule their use of time off in advance when possible. This cannot be expected in the case of an emergency.

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When medical procedures are able to be scheduled, the time off can be determined. This will have a positive impact on staffing needs.

Misuse

There will be employees who misuse their time for sick leave. A policy must be designed to discourage this type of behavior.

Some companies require employees to call in each day they are sick. Some also require a note from their doctor if the employee claims to have a serious illness. The use of sick leave needs to be carefully monitored.

While it might seem trivial, developing an effective sick leave policy or improving a current one is important. Having a well thought out and consistently applied sick leave policy will help your business avoid some potentially costly issues.

This was originally published on the Genesis HR Solutions blog.

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