Sick Days Are for Illness, Not Those Just Sick of Working

When employees are ill, it is in everyone’s best interests they stay home and recover. Paid sick days are designed to keep a workforce healthy. But some employees, especially those with “use it or lose it” sick time, feel entitled to the paid day off and call in sick anyway. When these result in previously unplanned three-day weekends, an employer is right to be suspicious.

Employers who see a pattern of conduct may be able to legitimately question it. Most of the time, a simple conversation can rectify matters. If employees are not truly ill, sensible people will take vacation days if they want a legitimate three-day weekend.

In some cases, repeated sick days may be a signal of issues that have not yet surfaced, such as harassment, substance abuse, or other matters that the employee has not discussed with supervisors, managers or Human Resources. Keep conversations open and be sensitive there may be facts you are not aware of.

What trips up scofflaws? Social media. Facebook posts and Instagrams from the ski lodge will soon reveal you do not have flu or that your back seems perfectly fine.

Employers use a wide variety of programs to incentive employees, keep them healthy, and discourage misuse of benefit programs. Some employers even buy back some unused sick pay at the end of the year. It is wise to remember any misrepresentation to an employer can result in discipline up to an including termination. A better tactic is to approach your manager, indicate you are current with your projects, and would like to take a sick day to recharge, so you can continue functioning at pace.