Any business depends on its employees to run their operations. When one person is consistently absent, it can put an additional strain on the rest of the team. However, there are ways you can handle the situation that supports your company and the sick employee.

Know the Law

As an employer, you have to comply with laws that protect employees with health issues. The Family and Medical Leave Act gives employees the right to unpaid leave for specific health reasons, and your state may have additional regulations that govern employee illness. Before taking any action, discuss the issue with your HR representative or lawyer, or contact the information line of your state’s Department of Labor.

Reassess Leave Policies

Ask yourself if other employees appear to be under stress. Even if only one person is regularly calling in sick, others may be struggling to perform to the standards you’ve set. An app like Hello Focus can let you see at a glance what everyone’s working on and the status of each project.

If you can’t adjust your office priorities, consider revamping your leave policies. Instead of allocating days for sickness or for vacation, create one bank of paid time off. This can make the time away from the job more predictable, as you can assume every employee will exhaust all of their PTO days.

You may also ask if your time off policy is too restrictive. If employees feel like they can take a day away from the workplace when they need it, they may be less likely to call in at the last minute. They may be able to engage in self-care that keeps them healthy and prevents illness in the first place.

Have a Backup Plan

Losing an employee due to sickness can put particular strains on small businesses, who rely on every person to get the job done every day. While you may not be able to prevent every employee from calling in sick, you can make it easier on those who are left behind. Have procedure manuals and step-by-step instructions in place so it’s possible for another person to cover the sick person’s duties.

Demonstrate Compassion

While your focus is on keeping things running, your employee may be dealing with some serious issues. If you offer an employee wellness plan or have information about resources that can support mental and physical health, make this information easily accessible to all employees and let them know they can take advantage of it without shame and in confidence.

You may have to sit down with the employee and ask what is going on. Do so with compassion, opening up the conversation in a safe place. Ask if there is anything you can do to offer support and make things easier. It is possible the employee doesn’t know he has access to health services, for example, or that you may be willing to make other workplace accommodations. Work-from-home arrangements, which make it easier for caregivers of sick individuals, for example, are easier to achieve with workplace productivity apps.

It is possible your employee is not aware that the use of sick time has caused operational problems. If a conversation reveals a potential abuse of sick time policies, professionally emphasize the employee’s importance to the team. The employee should change their behaviour or opt to leave the workplace.

Isabelle Daigle
Isabelle Daigle

Isabelle Daigle runs all content marketing for Hello Focus. She's an avid writer and loves long Netflix binge sessions!