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Sick of Sick Days?

Published May 09, 2017 (last updated February 21, 2023) - NZ Operations Manager

Overuse of sick days amongst employees can be hard to manage and can also reveal a deeper lying issue, so it’s important for employers to be on top of recurring sick days. So, here’s some of the best ways to minimise sick leave in your business.

Keep a record

Record keeping of all types of leave is a simple way to track increased use of sick days and track underuse of annual leave. For example, if an employee has taken five sick days in month, but spread over the month, it may not seem out of the ordinary unless a record is kept. However, these sporadic sick days across a month period can ring alarm bells for an employee’s engagement at work, or even that there is a broader issue.

Likewise, it is vital that employees take regular annual leave for their own well-being. As an employer, if you know via your record keeping that an employee has a good deal of accrued annual leave, you can speak with them and suggest they take some time out.

It is also a legal requirement under the Employment Relations Act 2000 to ensure that records of sick leave and annual leave are kept.

Doctor’s certificates

People get sick and they need to be able to take time off work when they are sick. But employers also need to be able to ensure that sick leave is not overused and abused.

An effective method is to require that employees produce a doctor’s certificate for all sick leave taken, irrespective of the amount of days. This drives accountability for sick leave taken and makes the process more transparent and should be used across the workplace.

There are specific requirements requesting a medical certificate under the Holidays Act 2003. These only apply where an employee has access to paid sick leave. You should also ensure that your policies and procedures specify when you may request a medical certificate.

Further, in circumstances where an employee is taking too many sick days, implement the requirement that they call their manager when sick rather than text or email. Again, this process increases the level of accountability on the employee.

Utilise Employsure’s Sickness Certification form

Employsure provides its clients with a Sickness Certification form which, if used correctly, can limit sick leave. The form asks employees whether they consulted a doctor, details of their illness, and why they chose not to visit a doctor if this is the case. Employees complete the form upon their return to work and is a great example of a formal process that takes the flippancy out of taking sick days.

The cost of sick leave can be critical to a business – loss of productivity, the cost of replacement staff if needed and the impact on the culture of the business are key reasons to stay on top of it. For help managing sick leave, or any other type of leave, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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