All employees are entitled to sick leave for when either they themselves are sick or injured or to take time out to care for someone who depends upon them is sick or injured.
As a good employer you should encourage sick employees to take their sick leave as it is provided so that they can take time to get better and recover from their illness or injury.
Employers need to actively manage sick leave. This means, as stated above, telling employees to use their sick leave when they are sick, just as much as it means questioning what is going on when an employee appears to be taking too much sick leave for no apparent reason.
The trick here is to be reasonable and consistent in your approach. While everyone reacts differently to illness and injury, an employer should be consistent in looking after everyone the same way. This does not mean everyone gets the same sick leave or same support - that will always depend on the individual's circumstances. But, if employees are coming to work sick, then be consistent and tell all such employees that they should use their sick leave. Don't just focus on particular people.
Similarly if employees are taking too much sick leave or there is a regular pattern of sick leave absence, regardless of who the employee is, take a consistent approach to asking them what is going on. You don't need to take a formal approach. Often an informal chat may be all that is required. However, if someone doesn't respond or their absences continue despite the informal approach, you can ask them to provide a medical certificate detailing what their current health situation is, what impact that has on their ability to perform their job, how long the condition might last for and what, if any, reasonable accommodations you might need to consider to making to their work to support the employee through the period of illness.
If you get a medical certificate that only states "unfit for work" and does not provide any further information, you can seek additional information from the medical practitioner so that you can make an informed decision. Refer Blog on Changes for Medical Certificates.
Remember that you cannot put yourself into the shoes of a medical practitioner. If you need to make any decisions about a person's medical condition and how that might be impacting on their work, you need to seek the advice of an appropriate medical practitioner. Once you have that advice you should discuss what this means with the employee concerned and also take into consideration any other information the employee gives you.
If you need assistance in seeking medical advice contact McKone Consultancy today for an obligation free consultation.