February 09, 2018
The Importance of Having a Sick Day Policy
Sick employees are bad for business – plain and simple. They can wreak havoc on the workplace in many ways - spreading germs, putting additional stress on co-workers who have to pick up the slack or even creating tension amongst the team. While it might seem great to have such dedicated employees who are willing to work even when they are ill, what might be a mild case of the flu for one can land another in the hospital or worse, put multiple members of your team out for weeks.
You need an equitable sick leave policy in place that provides employees a reasonable amount of paid sick leave, allowing them the time to recover when they’re not feeling well. Additionally, having a clearly written policy that specifies the organization’s standards and what is expected of the employee will help to minimize sick leave abuse. Paid sick leave is not typically required under federal law but may be required under state law – different states have different requirements so make sure to do your research to determine what, if any, state laws are applicable to you.
By implementing a few simple guidelines, you can create a solid yet thoughtful sick day policy that helps to maintain a healthier workplace and keep your nonprofit running smoothing when someone is out. First and foremost, you need managers to not only encourage people to stay home when they are ill but to also stay home themselves when ill – leading by example is the most powerful tool managers have at their discretion.
Secondly, have a back-up plan in place for when those instances do arise so key tasks don’t go unattended for days at a time. For example, cross-train your staff so that everyone has someone who can fill in where and when needed. While this may not be an ideal situation for some, ensuring everyone understands the benefits of such a plan and knows what to expect ahead of time, can go a long way in eliminating some of the stress when the need presents itself.
Also important to keep in mind, while it’s not practical to have someone out of the office for weeks due to a general cold, it is wise to require employees who have been out with the flu and/or a fever to remain home until they’ve been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. This will ensure they are no longer contagious and getting others sick upon returning to work.
If an employer doesn’t offer sick leave, they will only accelerate health issues and the spread of illness, thereby lowering productivity and office morale. Remember, when an employee comes to work sick, it puts you and the rest of your staff in a weak environment, which can affect a nonprofit as badly as the loss of a major contributor. Being sensitive to the health of all your staff should be priority number one. To ensure you are doing everything you can is to genuinely take an interest in the health of the people working with you. Remember, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace.