When an employee falls ill, they are often in a difficult position. They may need to take time off work to recover, but doing so puts them at risk of being dismissed. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many workers in the United States and indeed throughout the world.
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly one-third of employers have fired an employee who was out on sick leave. While there are some instances where dismissal is warranted, such as when an employee has been repeatedly absent or is not performing their duties, oftentimes these terminations are unjust and unfair. If you have been fired while on sick leave, or are worried that this could happen to you, read on to learn more about your rights and what you can do to protect yourself.
Here’s an overview:
- Employees are not productive when they’re sick
- They can spread their illness to others in the workplace
- It’s expensive for companies to provide health insurance
- Some employees abuse the system by taking advantage of sick days
- Employers are legally allowed to dismiss employees who are on sick leave
Employees are not productive when they’re sick
Employee productivity can take a substantial hit when an illness enters the fray. When they are sick, a person’s physical and mental energy is diverted away from work responsibilities, making it difficult to stay productive in the workplace. Additionally, their colleagues may also feel the effects through increased pressure to complete tasks or produce results that would otherwise have been accomplished by the ill employee.
To minimize its impact on business operations, organizations should encourage employees to stay home when they’re feeling under the weather and consider providing remote working options whenever possible. That way, they can recuperate while still being able to get some of their work done from a comfortable space. Skipping out on sick days altogether could lead to bigger issues down the road for everyone involved, so it’s in everyone’s best interest for employers and employees alike to respect this important principle.
They can spread their illness to others in the workplace
Illnesses in the workplace can create hazardous scenarios for other employees. If someone is infected and goes to work despite feeling unwell, they can easily spread the germs to others, resulting in a cycle of sickness that can be difficult to break. It is clearly important that people stay home when feeling ill, so as to not put their coworkers at risk.
Additionally, keeping hand sanitizer available throughout the business and encouraging frequent washing of hands can go a long way towards staving off potential contagions. After all, it only takes one employee with an infection to cause many others to become sick making it critical for everyone in the workplace to take all necessary precautions.
It’s expensive for companies to provide health insurance
Health insurance is an important benefit for both full-time and part-time employees, but providing health insurance can be expensive for companies. Employee group benefits plans contain a premium cost that increases with the size of the organization and the number of covered employees.
For smaller businesses, it can be difficult to find affordable coverage due to associated administrative costs including renewal fees, consultation fees, and risk assessment fees. Companies must also decide how much of the cost of coverage to pay for, along with budgeting for changes in the plan design, additional benefits, or any necessary upgraded services that may arise during the year. In addition to premiums, companies may have to pay co-pays and deductibles adding more expenses.
For all these reasons, it can often be an expensive endeavor for companies to provide health insurance benefits to their staff.
Some employees abuse the system by taking advantage of sick days
Many workplaces suffer from a cycle of mistrust and resentment when it comes to the issue of employees abusing their sick days. Absenteeism for personal reasons can result in employees taking advantage of the trust that is placed in them to come to work when they are healthy.
Employers have an essential duty of care to ensure workplace safety and performance standards are met, so employee abuse of the system should not be tolerated. The longer this behavior is allowed to continue, the more it will adversely affect morale and productivity. It’s important for employers to nip these situations in the bud by implementing a policy for reporting and penalizing sick-day abusers.
Employers are legally allowed to dismiss employees who are on sick leave
Employers have the legal right to dismiss an employee who is on sick leave, though there are numerous precautions that should be taken before finalizing any decision. It is crucial that employers take into consideration the frequency of absences and the capacity of employees to work while they are on sick leave. Dismissal procedures should always provide fairness to employees and follow company policy before decisions can be made. Not abiding by this process could put companies in serious trouble if an employment lawsuit were to arise from it.
Employees who are sick cost companies money in terms of productivity and health insurance expenses. Some employees abuse the system by calling in sick when they’re not actually ill, which puts an even greater strain on businesses. While it may be tempting for employers to terminate workers who frequently call in sick, there are legal implications that need to be considered before taking such a step.