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How to Stop 9 of the Worst Employee Sick Time Management Mistakes

December 10, 2018

Don't want to lose money because of employee sick time? Ensure you aren't making any of these costly errors.

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It's time to face the facts: Your employees are going to get sick. Some may even be sick right now.

How you manage that non-negotiable fact, though, will determine the health of your business. Keep everything about your employee sick time fair, legal, and organized, and your company should be just fine when a member of your staff needs to take a sick day or two.

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9 Common Employee Sick Time Management Mistakes You Don't Want to Make


Mistake #1: Not saying anything when a visibly ill employee comes to work
Most workers know that coming to work sick puts their co-workers at risk of contracting the same illness, but almost 80% do it anyway. Some people feel like they have too much work and can't take the time away. Others may not want to be perceived as "weak" by calling out. Create a culture in which employees know you support and encourage their use of sick time.


Mistake #2: Failing to keep up with regulatory changes
Paid sick time is not federally mandated right now in the U.S., but there are specific state and county laws you may need to keep up with. Currently, ten states and Washington, D.C., require paid sick leave, but the laws are evolving all the time. You can't just plead ignorance if you accidentally break a sick leave law, so have a plan in place for staying on top of regulations that may impact your company.


Mistake #3: Not knowing who is covered and for what reasons
Paid employee sick time isn't just for when someone has the flu. Some paid sick leave laws cover not just employees, but certain family (and extended family) members as well. In some cases, employees can use the time off for routine medical appointments and sometimes even "safe time," which refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking.


Mistake #4: Making employees feel guilty or afraid to use their sick time
If an employee has paid sick time available, they should never be made to feel like they can't use it. In addition to being cruel, your company could face fines for any violations. For example, in Rhode Island, if employers fail to pay the sick time, punish, or threaten employees who use their sick time, fines may be $100 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for subsequent offenses.


Mistake #5: Having the same employee sick time policy for branches in different states
If your company has different locations in different states, it can be tempting to create one catch-all employee sick time policy. One policy is easier to manage and update, but that can also put you at risk for non-compliance.


Mistake #6: Only sticking to the bare minimum if you want to compete with other companies for top talent
You may be completely compliant with the amount of sick time you're offering, but you may not be competitive. Benefits are a significant part of attracting top talent to organizations, so don't get stingy with time off to save a few dollars in the short term. Happy, healthy, high-performers are the backbone of your organization.


Mistake #7: Not having an up-to-date, written copy of your current sick leave policy that employees can easily access
Frustrated that your employees aren't following the rules when it comes to sick time? They may not have a clue what your policy is. Avoid any misunderstandings or legal issues and ensure employees always have access to your sick time policy.


Mistake #8: Using the honor system for tracking
The employee sick time honor system tends to happen more in very small organizations, but if you want to be serious about sticking to the rules, you need a way to track that time off. If your company is small, this can be as simple as using a spreadsheet, but it's often smarter to invest in easy-to-use time-tracking software that does the work for you.


Mistake #9: Not doing your part to prevent illness
Hoping each employee won't use all of their allotted paid sick time? Help them stay healthy! Provide hand sanitizer throughout your building, encourage employees to wipe down their desks regularly with Clorox wipes, and send out reminders and helpful hints about avoiding germs. Going into cold and flu season, offer free, in-office flu shots for employees or their family members.


Are you giving your employees access to top-notch benefits? Contact D.L. Barton Insurance Agency to learn about your options.

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