Our employees call in sick when time off isn't approved

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Question: We have hourly employees who submit a request for days off and, when the days are not approved, they call in sick. Does anyone have a policy in place that would help with this problem?  -- Wendy


I would save their request for time-off and then note on the sheet that it was denied. If and when they call in sick on that particular date, you have legitimate grounds to write them up or suspend them without pay.

Require a doctor's note when this situation occurs.

We do not have a written policy on this, but when we think someone is faking it, we will sometimes call them at home to verify they are there. However, with call forwarding, a person can easily get around this....(register to read more)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Huw Wilson February 18, 2013 at 5:51 am

I think the problem here is the way employers are dealing with the sick days.

When the employee calls in sick, DON’T get riled or start berating the employee over the phone. That makes things worse and they are likely to take more sick days if indeed they are faking. Deal with it likes this.

Employee: I can’t come in, i’m sick (for whatever reason)!.
You: Oh i’m sorry to hear that (name!), I hope it isn’t anything too serious. Is there anything I can do in the meantime?
Employee: No thanks – I just need to get better!
You: Okay well if you need anything, give me a call and i’ll see you when you get back.

This way you are not accusing, you are showing empathy. You’re not insinuating that you need them or anything for an important event (even if you do, don’t mention it).

When they come back have a 1-2-1, say:

You: I hope you’re feeling better.
Employee: Yes.
You: Good i’m glad to hear it, is there anything I need to know or do to make things comfortable for you?
Employee: No thanks.
You: Well if you need anything, you know where I am. Don’t hesitate to contact me. If you need a breather for five minutes let me know and i’ll arrange for you to go off the floor/outside!
Employee: Thank you!
You: You’re welcome! I want to support you and I don’t want you to be stressed or anything, just take your time, relax and as I say i’m here to offer as much supprt as I can.

If you show empathy, flexibility to the employee in terms of if they need time for a breather, it will limit their likelyhood of going off sick. They can’t say they don’t have support or employer understanding and reducing the likelyhood of going off sick in this way will ultimately benefit your company, workforce and working productivity.


DebbiePLS May 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

What about employees who always phone in sick on important days? For example, a legal assistant who phones in sick when a court filing is due or a maintenance engineer who phones in sick when there is some moving around of furniture that has to be done for an upcoming event.


unfair January 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm

my husband was denied sick day to go to the doctor..how is this legal…im in las vegas and he works for a large company.0


John August 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

employees are given sick time and personal to use when they want without permission of management. Try to bring write them up or suspend and you could been the one who takes the heat


Elizabeth March 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Flip side of the story here – I am an employeer with 21 employees whom each have 10 personal days per year that they can take, no questions asked. Great, right? Here’s my problem, there is roughly 23 work days per month, 21 employees times 10 days each equals to 21 times per month for roughly 10 months that I have an employee out. Quite frankley, employees are getting sick and tired of having to stay late or come in early to cover for each other. I am in the education business so not only am I counting on my employees to be there, the children in the classroom and the parents who pay weekly are also counting on the employees being present. Am I a bad employer if I lower the days available or is there a better way to measure time off work? I need good advice!


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