We advise all our clients to have in place a robust procedure for employees reporting sickness absence. In particular, we specify that employees must phone their manager in person by a certain time. Contact by text or email is not acceptable. It is also not okay for a family member or friend to phone on behalf of an employee, except if he or she is unable to phone in person due to exceptional circumstances, for example, he or she is in hospital.
We have recently dealt with case where an employee who has been with the Company for less than two months did not report her absence in the correct way. The manager spoke to her and reiterated the correct procedure and the employee gave her commitment to follow this procedure in the future.
The manager decided to deal with the situation informally. Less than a week later the employee went off sick again and didn’t follow the correct notification procedure. The manager, not surprisingly, was very frustrated. Under the procedure, the employee should have phoned the manager in person by 10.00. At 15.30 the mother of the employee phoned to say that she was in hospital with a bad throat which was why she was not at work. The manager was very concerned that she was so unwell and waited for an update the following day. Despite leaving voicemail messages for her to phone the manager, she never returned any calls.
However, she did send a text message to say that she was unable to phone the manager because she had lost her voice. The absence continued for several days. The employee had in her possession client files which the manager needed to access in order to cover her work. In his many messages to her he asked for these to be returned. This didn’t happen so the manager tried to arrange to collect the files from her.
There was no response so the manager went to her home. She answered the door and spoke without any difficulty to the manager. She also said she hadn’t been to hospital. Even if this employee had lost her voice and was unable to speak at all, she could have sent an email to the manager explaining the situation and to seek advice. In this situation, it was clear that the employee had no intention of meeting the Company’s reasonable standard.
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