The safety context of sick leave entitlements

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.

Categories health, OHS, safety, Uncategorized, workplaceTags , ,

1 thought on “The safety context of sick leave entitlements”

  1. Kevin, the article seems to completely ignore the health implications of such a system. However even looking at it from the \’all employees are liars\’ perspective, the system seems to focus entirely on attendance, and completely misses the obvious issue, which would be \’productivity\’. If the net effect of implementing this system is an increase in attendance yet an overall decrease in productivity it is completely self defeating. This comes straight back to the issue you raised of \”Why dont my staff want to come to work?\” Get a handle on the answer to this question and you go a long way to understanding how to increase productivity. As a manager I think it is far more effective to expend energy and money on proactive systems, such as health and wellbeing programs, to get the best out of people. Ringing them to confirm what you already know (ie they are sick) seems to run counter to logical thought.

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