Employers have the right to receive an honest day’s work from their employees.
An employee’s contracted working hours, roster or location may, however, conflict with their personal commitments or lifestyle from time to time. In such a case, there is a temptation for the employee to take a sickie, rather than turning up for work.
Should an employee give in to this temptation, they breach their employment contract, and the employer has the right (subject to meeting any procedural fairness requirements) to take disciplinary action against the employee.
There is no doubt that absenteeism of this kind is rife in Australia. It causes a massive loss of productivity to individual employers, and to the economy as a whole, year after year.
That said, the costs and distraction to the employer of monitoring and enforcing their rights is often not worth it. Employers continue to get “taken” by their employees while getting on with business.
One way of attacking a “sickie culture” in your business is to introduce a flexible work program. Flexible work practices may help to reduce absenteeism by providing employees with better work-life balance.
Employees now have a legal right under the Fair Work Act to request flexible work arrangements for certain recognised reasons (e.g. the employee is the primary carer of a school age or younger child). A flexible work program can assist employers to comply with the law concerning this obligation.
Importantly, the right to request flexible work under the Fair Work Act is not (as yet) absolute. The employer has the right under the Fair Work Act to refuse a request for a flexible work arrangement for a recognised reason on reasonable business grounds.
It is possible to design and introduce a flexible work program that complies with the requirements of the Fair Work Act, while preserving your right to organise working arrangements in a way that best suits your business needs.
If this has the added benefit of reducing sickies, what’s not to like?
Contact me today to discuss legal strategies that can help you employ with confidence in your business.