If I have a cold that could spread to my work colleagues, I take the day off. I use my entitlement of sick leave to achieve two aims – to get myself well and to avoid infecting my workmates. Both these aims are within the context of occupational health, safety and wellness.
The Australian newspaper today provided an outline of a new absentee-management IT system that would provide good support for sick leave management. You ring in sick and a qualified nurse will estimate the necessary period off work and notify your supervisor. There are several flaws that I can see in the system:
- What if a worker produces a medical certificate that contradicts the determination of the nurse?
- Can diagnosis really be undertaken over the phone?
- This service only seems to relate to health matters. What about stress?
- Some companies allow for “doona days” where time off is allowed to “chill out” and to minimise stress. Are these classified as a sick day? They certainly provide health benefits.
The article’s focus is on the IT system but given that the article is written by the newspaper’s Human Resources writer, it is a little dismissive of the role of sick leave entitlements.
“Mondayitis” may be a glib throwaway term but there is also an implication that taking Monday’s off repeatedly is a sign of abuse of the system. Repeated regular absences may be an important symptom of a workplace matter that needs addressing and not just disciplining. For instance, if your boss repeatedly embarasses you in the Monday-morning staff meeting, you may feel this is a good reason to avoid Mondays. The better path would be to address the cause of the absence, should your employer provide such opportunities.