The recent pandemic has provided several opportunities to rethink how business gets done, including sick leave policies. No matter your original approach, there is a good chance you and your employees are looking at sick leave from a different perspective than you were at the beginning of the year.
A statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found 76% of employees, or 3 out of 4, receive sick days. The cost of the benefit to employers averages $0.42 per employee hour worked. While this is certainly an investment in the bottom line, it is important to also realize that a competitive sick leave policy is also looked at as a benefit by employees. Some studies have shown a well-received policy can cut turnover by up to 50%, a true money-saving asset.
A Costly Practice
While many workplaces choose to look the other way when employees come in sick rather than using a PTO day, the recent pandemic has shifted this practice into potentially dangerous territory. Allowing employees to work while being sick can cost a business more money. A statistic found that working while sick costs U.S. employers between $150 and $250 billion a year, an amount that is nothing to sneeze at.
More recently, fears of the spread of the COVID-19 virus are increasing the need for a policy or policies that protect workers and maintain productivity while also keeping your business competitive to retaining and attracting employees.
Especially now, it is a good policy to encourage employees to stay home when sick. This provides a measure of reassurance to the sick employee and to their peers working in the office. Knowing that being sick is not a mark against them is a smart way to protect the business now and creates longer-term benefits around productivity and employee loyalty.
Make it legal – Know the basics about sick leave policies in your state and any specifics as they relate to your industry. Be sure to conform with all relevant regulations.
Make it clear – Be transparent with employees and make sure to highlight any changes. The policy should be easy to reference in the employee handbook and/or on the employee intranet or website.
Make a contingency plan – Have a back-up plan in place and ready to go. Cross-train employees and reduce redundancies wherever possible. Time lost is money wasted.
In the end, remember a “healthy” sick-leave plan really is an investment in your company’s wellbeing!