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How to Handle Excessive Sick Leave Abuse from Employees?


Sick leaves at work are common. Employees catch a cold, have emergency situations or need a couple of days to themselves almost often. But all of this is quite understandable isnt it? What makes it hard is when the person doesn’t have genuine reasons for skipping the day but they still do so anyway because they wanted to.

In cases like this, it is very important to speak to your manager and get to know the situation so that serious action can be taken. And this is what the article will help you in doing.

handle excessive sick leave

Examples of Sick Leave Abuse are:

  • Absence or failing to provide advance notice
  • Failure to report an absence properly
  • Failure to submit the medical certification upon request
  • Leaving early from the office
  • Not taking explicit permission to leave early on a particular day
  • Number of times employee is late to the office
  • Total number of absences

Excessive Sick Leave Abuse – 13 Monitoring Tips:

1. Check how serious the problem is:

The first thing you need to do is observe how serious the problem is or could be. Start keeping a track of the number of times the person is taking a sick leave. A good record with all the important reports would be a good place to begin with.

Check the attendance file and see how regular the person is. Then transfer all necessary details to one document so that you know how frequent the person has been taking leaves.

Also see how much you have lost because of the person. If there is any work that hasn’t been completed because of the person, keep a note of that too.

2. Speak to their friends and employees:

If you really want to know the truth, you have to speak to the workers friends and employees. If the person is suffering with a disease or has a genuine problem, you will get to know if you talk.

Even if the individual is lying you will have an idea if you make plain conversation. The deeper you get into the situation, the faster you will know if the person has real reasons for taking sick leaves or are they just fooling around.

3. Don’t grant them the permission:

Never let any of your employees take you for granted. Learn to be a bit strict sometimes and just say no when you have to. Not granting them permission could also be a very smart method of dealing with excessive sick leaves.

People who have been abusing sick leaves and violating rules must be taught a lesson. So make sure to deny them any permission.

4. Have a one on one discussion with them:

If there is just one person who has been missing work for too long, you should have a one on one discussion with them. Pull them aside or call them to your office and try to know what is really going on.

Speak and let them know how badly this is affecting work and how other employees are also following the same example. You should explain to them that this in no way will be tolerated at your work place.

5. Use the right words:

Using the right kind of words is also very important for your employees. When someone has been taking sick leaves again and again, call them to your office and speak to them.

Say that they have been missing one day every couple of weeks and that the company is really in doubt whether they can stay for long. Their reliability has come to question as a result of their absenteeism.

Go on saying that you do understand that things can happen but too much of procrastination can never be accepted in a work environment.

Say that the person cannot miss work anymore unless the case is extreme. At the end of this you should ask if the individual is willing to change or not.

6. Be clear about the instructions:

It is very important to make sure that all new members have a good idea about the job. This also includes the rules about sick leaves and missing days at work in general. Since you are an employer, you should make sure to come up with an orientation or a meeting so that you can deal with the new hires.

So when a new member has just arrived, give them some time to understand all the rules and regulations. Speak to them and give them all books and documentation that reveal all policies regarding sick leaves.

Let them know how important it is for all employees to know all rules and regulations so that they know repeated absenteeism will not be tolerated at all.

7. Organize an Interview:

For example you have been noticing someone missing way too many days at work. And you have tried to talk to them, but their behaviour doesn’t change.

What should you do? Simple! Organize an interview on the day they come back. They should attend this interview so that you can check whether they are fit enough to work or not. This could also be a good time to speak to them about what happened and how did they restore their health etc.

Once you have seen the real situation, it is up to you to judge whether the person is genuine enough to get a sick leave again.

8. Reduce the Number of Days:

Another thing you can do is change the policy. You can reduce the number of days a person is allowed to take sick leave. And in case you have sound proof that the reason for leave is very extreme or the person needs complete bed rest, then it could be considered. Once you announce a policy like this at work it will definitely work.

9. Demand an explanation:

Another thing you should definitely do is demand for an explanation. If a person has been missing work way too often, then please go ahead and demand an explanation. Ask what has gone wrong and why the person hasn’t turned up for work.

When they respond, observe their behaviour and see how they react. You would know if the employee is genuine or not.

Also say that you as the manager have the right to remove the employee if the need arises. That would definitely change the mind of the candidate.

10. Deduct an amount:

This technique should only be used if the case has gone too far and cannot be mended unless some serious action is taken. If the person was supposed to get an incentive, tell them they could lose it if they keep missing so many days.

But for that you need to find out if their reason is genuine enough. Only then you should use such a technique. Threatening could also work at times like this. But do note that such ideas are very harsh and should not be tried at first.

11. Do an audit:

This technique will also be very effective if you try this once. When you audit your organization, you will know the main factors for which the person has been missing days at work.

So when you are preparing for the audit, make sure an assessment is included. See the factors that could lead to affecting the satisfaction of the job and who will take the responsibility of handling absenteeism.

You should actually ask one of your juniors or managers to handle this. Not only will this help you out but you will learn a lot about the current scenario at work.

12. Help them out:

There are times when your employee could use your help. Reach out to them and try to show them ways in which they can be more regular to work. Several bosses have done this and so should you.

Create an effective plan for them so that they can make up for the time that is lost. When they are back, they can begin work once again and finish all that was left.

13. Try to understand why people could be missing work:

Now this is the last strategy and you should only use it if you have noticed a whole lot of people miss work. Try to see if there is something wrong with the environment that is putting them off.

Some of the biggest reasons why people miss work are because the communication skills are very poor. There could be a lack of understanding. Some people still aren’t sure about the rules at work. The other reason could be poor relations between  manager and employee.

Excessive sick leave abuse survey results:

Many organizations give cash incentives or other monetary benefits to their employees to use sick leave programs properly.

According to the survey done by HR Center Personnel Program Inventory, developed by the International Personnel Management Association, Out Of the 428 IPMA Agency Members who responded, the survey found the following incentive statistics:

  • 11% convert sick leave to vacation time
  • 33% offer sick leave sharing or leave banks
  • 45% offer cash or pay for unused sick leave
  • 58% cash-out sick leave at retirement
  • 9% convert sick leave to insurance at retirement
  • 3% convert sick leave to disability insurance
  • 2% convert sick leave to wellness expenses.


It is always important to know the root of the problem. When you finally know what is really going on, you will be able to make the necessary changes.

Not turning up for work is not just an inconvenience to the employees but also to the managers. If you follow some of our tips and suggestions, you will be able to avoid the problem.

Some of you love asking questions. Feel free to do so and we will try our level best to answer them all. On that note, good luck!