The pandemic altered every business regardless of industry or size. Companies assembled their plans for a remote workforce and found new ways to operate when states began issuing stay-at-home orders. Part of this challenge was determining how to handle leave requests and attendance.
Why Are Remote Employees Working While Ill?
Working from home blurred the line between work and personal time, particularly for employees that don’t have a dedicated office. It made it easy to work outside of usual hours and increased the perception of always being available. Even before the pandemic, many employees would come to work while ill or return to work before fully recovering. Some of this is because many employees fear judgment from their colleagues or employers if they call out sick. Others feel the pressure to always be available to their customers.
How COVID-19 Changed Sick Days
The pandemic has further complicated what it means to take a sick day. In a traditional office setting, employees should stay home when ill to prevent spreading illness. Now that they’re already in their home, many feel guilty for requesting a sick day. One survey found that almost half of employees believe other illnesses are insignificant compared to COVID-19. Two-thirds of the respondents believe their employer would frown upon any employee who takes a sick day for anything less severe than COVID-19.
The Cost of Presenteeism
Presenteeism, working while ill, comes with a hefty cost. Productivity decreases nearly threefold when employees work while ill or in pain. They’re also more likely to need to take a sick day if they work while ill, further tanking efficiency.
Many businesses have responded by offering more paid time off during the pandemic or implementing personal days. Other companies are tackling the issue with a shift in company culture. They’re training management to be empathetic when an employee requests sick leave. They’re hoping to shift the perception that the company leadership wants their employees to get better for their health rather than to get back to work quickly.
The pandemic made all aspects of running a business harder than before, and managing attendance is no exception. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can simplify absence management during the pandemic.
Managing employee absenteeism is one of the greatest challenges facing employers. Employees miss work due to illness, vacations, and a variety of other factors, which is why most employers offer several types of paid and unpaid leave. However, a few absences for legitimate reasons are not employers’ main attendance concern. It is when employees begin to abuse their sick leave or paid time off that employers need to step in and address the issue. Even so, employers need to make sure they do not take disciplinary action against employees taking time off for reasons protected by federal and state law.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
FMLA protects employees when they have to take leave due to major life events. However, the employee must provide written notice that he or she will be absent as well as provide proof that their absence qualifies under FMLA (e.g. a doctor’s note). Some examples of life situations covered by FMLA include:
- Giving birth and caring for a child during the child’s first year of life
- Adopting and caring for a child for the first year
- Caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health issue
- Taking time off due to a serious health issue
- Emergencies relating to a spouse, child, or parent due to the military
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Businesses that employ individuals with disabilities have to put accommodations in place to ensure that employee can do his or her job without undue hardship. If an employer neglects to implement reasonable accommodations, that employee may not be able complete his or her job properly, resulting in absences. Employers need to discover the root cause of the absences before taking disciplinary action as the absences may fall under the ADA.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
This act protects military members’ jobs after returning from military service. Some periods of service are short, such as mandatory drill periods for individuals in the reserves. However, some service periods are months long and arise with little notice, such as when a reserve unit activates and deploys. In both of these instances, employers cannot take disciplinary action against the affected employee.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This act protects employees from discrimination based on their race, sex, color, national origin, and religion. Similar to the ADA, employers should investigate employee absences to determine their cause before disciplining the employee. For example, the employee may be absent due to a religious holiday, which Title VII protects.
In addition to federal laws, many states have laws protecting a variety of absences as well. Some of the most common are workers’ compensation and jury duty laws. Managing absenteeism is a challenging job but investing in absence reporting technology can help. To learn more about how absence reporting programs can help employers improve employee attendance while remaining compliant with federal and state laws, contact Actec today.