Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance (LEAP) Fund for performance audits
Human Resources Management
Sick Leave Management
Sick Leave Abuse: a Chronic Workplace Ill? explores the high cost of absenteeism: unscheduled absenteeism can cost up to an average of $602 per employee, per year; indirect costs such as overtime pay for other employees, hiring temps, missed deadlines, lost sales, sinking morale and lower productivity can add up to 25 percent to the direct costs.
As a result, it is important to determine if and why an employee exploits leave policies. Just as an employer analyzes turnover, organizations should also look at sick leave trends. Doing so would help determine if sick leave is higher in one department, or under a particular supervisor, and if workplace policies and procedures affect absences. Finding the root causes of the problem helps address core issues.
Methods for monitoring sick leave abuse vary from one organization to another, but below are some common guidelines all employers can follow to manage sick leave effectively.
- Recognize the problem and intervene early before it escalates. Managers need to enforce leave policies and take appropriate action.
- Find out why the employee is abusing leave. Talk to employees who are abusing leave and see if their behavior stems from personal problems.
- Learn to say “No.” Employers should not let employees get away with abusing leave policies.
- Use procedures, regulations, practices, and knowledge to benefit management as well as the employee.
- Document everything to learn from past mistakes.
Additionally, Absence Management: Strategies for Curbing Absenteeism in the Workplace (International Public Management Association, 2003) suggests that employers document and monitor employee absences, pinpoint areas within the organization where absenteeism is excessive, hold supervisors accountable for employee attendance, and pay attention to absences.
The collective bargaining agreement between the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) and the State of Ohio contains provisions for disciplining employees for sick leave abuse and provisions for a pattern of abuse (defined as consistent periods of sick leave use).
The agreement provides examples of pattern abuse: before and/or after holidays; before and/or after weekends or regular days off; after pay days; any one specific day of the week; absence following overtime worked; half days; continued pattern of maintaining zero or near zero balances; and excessive absenteeism.
Contra Costa Water District
Contra Costa Water District (Concord, California) has a detailed sick leave monitoring/control program. It provides specific procedures related to sick leave monitoring and assigns responsibility for each to specific individuals and/or departments.
The table below shows the Contra Costa Water District procedures:
|Prepare and communicate sick leave usage statistics annually to managers and supervisors||General Manager’s Office
|Establish and communicate sick leave monitoring guidelines||Human Resources Division|
|Communicate annual usage information and discuss guidelines and implications with employees||Managers
|Document and evaluate sick leave usage on annual performance appraisal form||Supervisor|
|Consider counseling employees when annual sick leave usage exceeds 48 hours, taking into consideration mitigating circumstances regarding absences||Supervisor|
|Document all counseling in memorandum(s)||Supervisor|
|Annual sick leave exceeds 64 hours, determine if department recommends disciplinary action||Supervisor
Department Head / Department Manager
|Consult with Human Resources regarding department’s recommendation||Supervisor|
|Determine whether to initiate progressive disciplinary action||Supervisor
|Assist supervisor in taking appropriate level of disciplinary action||Human Resources|