Employees calling in sick on declined holidays
We hear frequently from managers about employees who call in sick on a day where there has been a declined holiday request. It’s important that employers do not jump to conclusions as this could be a coincidence.
By law, an employer can refuse an annual leave request if it is not practical, convenient or will negatively impact their business. However, there may occasionally be a scenario where holiday has been requested and refused, yet the employee phones in sick on the very day that they had originally requested as holiday.
If an employee has called in sick on a declined holiday day, this is potentially an unauthorised absence. An unauthorised absence is where an employee is absent from work without the employer’s permission on a day where they are contractually required to work.
In this situation, attempt to speak with the employee directly on the day of alleged sickness, rather than accepting any message or voicemail. If the employee is avoiding any conversation, or the manager remains unhappy with any explanation given by the employee, then it would be useful to arrange a return-to-work meeting. This will provide an ideal opportunity to ask the employee questions around their fitness for work. Return to work meetings are a useful tool to prevent bogus sickness absences, as the employer is permitted to ask an employee to verify the reasons for their absence.
In some cases, the employee may decide to come clean, in which case a decision can be made as to how best to deal with this by way of any disciplinary sanctions. As with any allegation of misconduct, the employer must follow a full and fair disciplinary process, providing the employee with an opportunity to state their case and to respond to any evidence against them.
It is also important to have in place a clear and easily accessible absence management policy.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns relating to absence in your workplace.