It seems that a trend has also been developing over the past few years as to the manner in which some employees are communicating their absences. Despite the fact that most contracts of employment will state that employees should phone their employer to let them know if they are unable to attend, it is becoming increasingly common for employees to e-mail or text their boss (or a colleague) if they aren’t going to be at work. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous blog, it is now even possible to download a ‘Sickie App’ designed to help users ‘pull a sickie.’
Many employers will already take steps to enforce any requirement to communicate non-attendance on the telephone. However, if you do not then you would be well advised to ensure that you don’t allow a practice to develop of employees notifying absences via text or e-mail.
Permitting employees to text or e-mail in sick as opposed to calling will make it more difficult for employers to assess whether the absence is genuine: it will always be easier for an employee to lie about their illness in a text or e-mail as opposed to over the phone. Ensuring that employees are made aware that they need to call in sick on each day of their absence until they have submitted a fit note should act as a further deterrent. In addition, employers should ensure that they undertake return to work discussions with employees upon their return. Doing this consistently and in the right way will ensure that employees know that they won’t be able to avoid discussing their absence with their employer which, again, acts as a deterrent to non-genuine absences.