If employees don't use their paid sick days when illness strikes, it could actually negatively impact your organization. According to United Press International, NSF International reports that 26 percent of Americans still go to work while they're sick because of their workload, about 42 percent are afraid they'll have too much work to make up if they miss a day and 37 percent say they can't afford a sick day. Meanwhile, 98 percent of workers say they judge co-workers who come to work sick.
Yet, having a sick employee on site can make others ill as well, which can further disrupt the organization's operations. So it's important for HR leaders to help employees understand the importance of not coming to work when they're ill. HR can make sure employees understand their sick leave benefits and how to use them.
Know what benefits your organization offers and is able to offer. In addition to your organization's sick leave or PTO policies, some states and local laws require that employers provide paid sick leave. At the federal level, sick leave is only required for certain federal contractors. It's also important to know how paid sick days intersect with unpaid benefits, such as those required by the Family Medical Leave Act. In some instances, such as employees who are diagnosed with cancer, the Americans with Disabilities Act may also apply and require accommodation.
Help employees and managers understand when and how to address staff who come into work when sick. If an employee's health and her or his ability to perform in their role is compromised, then supervisors should act. This can be a simple discussion with the employee. For minor but potentially contagious illness, the employee may even be able to work from home. Discuss whether any documentation is needed from the employee (e.g., a note from a medical provider) before they return to work.
When an employee is sick, it's beneficial to have a plan on how to address it. Knowing what benefits are available, along with the process, can help employees prevent the potential spread of illness at work.
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