Excessive employee absenteeism is a major problem in any business if left unattended. It can do the business a great deal of harm and can cause disharmony and negative feelings amoungst colleagues and co-workers.
Absenteeism can include any of the following: being continually late for work, taking excessive time off at lunch times or tea breaks, leaving work early, unexplained absence from the workstation, long toilet breaks, not attending to his or her duties as per the employment contract, fake illness, taking too long to fetch or deliver something, coming back late from annual leave, etc.
Employee absenteeism in the workplace is a form of misconduct. You should handle it under the company’s disciplinary code. And be sure to follow the correct disciplinary procedures when dealing with this problem.
Procedures to Handle Employee Absenteeism
When employees are absent from work frequently, either late for work, leaving work early, taking excessive breaks or even attending to private work during business hours, the first thing you should always do is talk to the employee. Ask why they did or are doing this. Then listen to what they have to say. Check their story and the facts if necessary.
Once you have the full story, then decide whether the reason is valid or not. Please note, that the reason may be valid but on the other hand it may not be justified.
For example, if an employee is late for work every day for a week because he/she couldn’t get a taxi or the taxis were late, this may well be true – perhaps the taxis were on strike or running late, so the reason for being late for work is valid. But you don’t have to accept it as justification and an excuse for the continued late-coming. The rule is that the Company has certain working hours – how the employee gets to work is his/her problem, not yours.
The same applies to leaving early, taking excessive breaks etc. Listen to their reason and decide if it is valid and justified or not…..and then take the appropriate action. The worst thing that you can do is to leave it…so take action, straight away.
Important Rules to Remember
Remember these important rules when finding a solution to the absenteeism problem:
- Always get the points down in writing when interviewing offending employees.
- The onus is on the employee to prove that he/she can justify his/her absence from work.
- The employee may produce reasons, and the reason may be valid, but despite being valid it can still be unacceptable.
Once you’ve decided that the reason is unacceptable and not justified, only then you should follow disciplinary procedures….not before!
Why Employee Absenteeism Gets out of Hand
The reality is that most employers don’t take action straight away. They leave it and wait until the situation is totally out of hand. Then when they can’t live with the problem any longer they overreact and take drastic action. Not meaning to be disrespectful, but they may as well just go straight to the CCMA.
Resolving the Problem of Excessive Employee Absenteeism
You’ll only be able to get on top of the situation if you follow the correct procedures from the beginning…when the problem starts. But most people don’t. Which is why so many businesses end up with problem employees. Here are the steps:
- Find out what’s causing the problem
- Decide whether the reason is valid and justified…then
- Follow the correct disciplinary procedures and take the appropriate disciplinary action if necessary.
To get more detail on how to handle excessive employee absenteeism including the appropriate disciplinary procedures and other forms of employee misconduct check out the Achievers Club.
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