Why It Pays To Have A Generous Sickness Policy

Staff sickness is a big problem for businesses worldwide. When someone goes off sick, business slows down as everyone else has to rush around to pick up their slack. For smaller businesses, the absence of a vital employee may result in business grinding to a halt altogether until they return to work. For this reason, many employers take rather a dim view of staff sickness. Most worrying for lots of businesses is the idea that staff may take advantage of a liberal sickness policy, and call in sick when they’re not ill in order to get a day off work. To prevent this, some companies make it known that they are unimpressed with the concept of sick leave, and will hold it against employees who persistently use it. However, while there is a certain logic to the idea of discouraging fake sick leave, employers may find that their businesses operate far better if they are actually generous with their sick leave policies, and even encourage ill staff to take a day off. How? Read on…

Man with Cold


The first good reason for encouraging sick staff to stay away from work is fairly obvious: sick staff may infect others, and before you know it, the whole workforce is down with a debilitating bug. Far better to have one person ill than twenty people ill. However stringent your hygiene standards are, there are very few ways to prevent viruses like the common cold and influenza from spreading once a source of infection is in the workplace. The best thing is to prevent the virus from getting in in the first place, by encouraging sick people to stay away from work.This can be done through several methods – including getting insurance to allow you to apportion sick pay to deserving employees. As a bonus, ill people are likely to recover far more quickly from their maladies if they’re devoting all of their energies to getting better, rather than driving themselves down with work. So, with infectious employees, you have a choice between the entire workforce going down with a virus, and then working at half-capacity for a long, long time due to the draining effects of their illness, or one employee taking a day or two off and then returning to work fully healthy and energized. The preferred option is obvious.


Less obvious, perhaps, is the motivation factor. The presence of sick employees – who are likely themselves to be lethargic and miserable – has a knock-on effect upon the morale of all staff. To have colleagues obviously struggling with illness is not only a cause for concern for everyone, but it makes the company as a whole seem like a bit of an uncaring monster. This is not great for your staff’s perception of the company, or their motivation to work hard for it. Furthermore, if you have ill staff in a customer-facing role, the customer is unlikely to get a very good impression of the company – which reduces their motivation to trade with you. Even if your staff are in rude good health, it’s worth noting that poor sick leave policies make staff feel that they’re not trusted, and cause stress about what will happen if they are sick. Study after study has proven that the best workers are those which are happy in their jobs, and a key component of being happy in your job is liking the company you work for. If employees feel that the company does not trust them, they’re less likely to care for the company, and will therefore feel less personally motivated to do good work. A great way to demonstrate trust and respect for your staff is to give them a generous sick-leave policy. What’s more, this shows that you care for their welfare – care which will hopefully be repaid in the form of excellent service.

But What About The Chancers?

Of course, none of this solves the problem of those chancey individuals who do take advantage of employer’s generosity to phone in sick when they actually just want a day off. However, penalizing the entire workforce (and threatening your own profits) is not the way to deal with such people. If you suspect someone of playing the system, it’s better to deal with this on an individual basis than to impart sweeping measures to eradicate the problem. If lots of people are faking sickness, the problem is probably more to do with their working conditions than their own morality – rather than tightening your sickness policy, ask yourself why your employees do not want to come in to work. What can you do to improve things for them, and make them happy to head to your workplace each day? Most people have good reasons for faking sickness – it’s actually quite rare to find someone who does so simply because they’re lazy and out to get something for nothing. It’s not fair to make everyone suffer for these rare individuals.

Author Bio: This article is contributed by Gemma Crane who work primarily as a freelance writer. I also worked for many years in business and finance.