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Using Sick Days at Work


Zekez
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If your company policy gives every employee "X" number of sick days per year, does it matter what the "sickness" is when using those days?

Does the employee have to provide a reason for calling in sick or just basically say " I won't be in today because I don't feel good"?

Of course I assume that all companies have some type of policy that covers missing 3 (or any number) of days in a row and then needing to provide a doctors excuse.

I am also not asking if companies will pay for unused sick days upon retirement, etc.

Just simply does the employee have to provide a reason for calling in sick? 

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My company, like many, has moved from separate “vacation” and “sick” days to an all inclusive combination of “paid time off”  (PTO).  Under that policy, no reason needs to be given to take a day off.

 

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I work for the government, and our sick leave policies are more liberal than most, I would imagine.

We can use sick leave for any doctor/dentist appointment. We can also use it for any illness or anything like that. This includes a kid's appointment or illness. We don't have a bright line policy on medical documentation for using sick leave, except for extended leave for childbirth or something similar. I think it's in our supervisor's discretion to request some sort of documentation, but I've never personally had that happen. I can't imagine that happening for taking sick leave of less than 3 days, though.

14 minutes ago, David in FL said:

My company, like many, has moved from separate “vacation” and “sick” days to an all inclusive combination of “paid time off”  (PTO).  Under that policy, no reason needs to be given to take a day off.

I hate this policy. I think it's shortsighted from management. People don't want to use their days off for being sick; they want to use it for fun things. I think it leads to sick people working more often, getting other people sick, and thus making the office less productive.

If the choice is between 3 weeks vacation + 1 week sick time, or just 4 weeks PTO, I would obviously take the 4 weeks. But I would also be coming into work sick more often.

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3 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

I hate this policy. I think it's shortsighted from management. People don't want to use their days off for being sick; they want to use it for fun things. I think it leads to sick people working more often, getting other people sick, and thus making the office less productive.

I disagree, and both companies I have been at so far have had the 1 large PTO bucket, and I can't say I've really ever seen someone in the office who was so visibly sick that they shouldn't have been there. 

Plus, for people who rarely get sick, the separate sick and vacation buckets would just mean they would either end up accumulating weeks upon months of sick time, or lie about being sick so they could actually use those days, especially if their employer has a "use it or lose it" policy where you can't roll unused days over to the following year.

7 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

If the choice is between 3 weeks vacation + 1 week sick time, or just 4 weeks PTO, I would obviously take the 4 weeks. But I would also be coming into work sick more often.

You just said you hated that policy of 1 PTO bucket, but then you said given the choice between those two policies you would choose the 1 PTO bucket. That doesn't make sense. Clearly the 1 PTO bucket must not be that bad of an idea if you would choose it over having separate vacation/sick buckets, right?

I have the 1 PTO bucket and I think it is perfectly fine. When I plan out my vacations and other PTO days throughout the year, I make sure I leave a couple days unused in case I get sick, and then if December comes and I haven't used those days yet, I take random Fridays or Mondays off in December since we can't roll any unused days over.

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9 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

I hate this policy. I think it's shortsighted from management. People don't want to use their days off for being sick; they want to use it for fun things. I think it leads to sick people working more often, getting other people sick, and thus making the office less productive.

If the choice is between 3 weeks vacation + 1 week sick time, or just 4 weeks PTO, I would obviously take the 4 weeks. But I would also be coming into work sick more often.

I tend to like it.

In most cases, companies changed simply to match what was already happening.  People would, and always have, taken “sick” time for your aforementioned fun things, and still come to work while sick.

Trying to verify and manage sick time, especially the one or two days when someone is (or claims to be) sick enough to want to stay home, but not so sick as to warrant the visit to a Dr, is a nightmare.  

Now the employee can use their PTO however they want, and the company benefits from an easier to manage system.  

Just for fun....the day most often called out for being “sick” is the Monday following the Super Bowl.  Imagine that.   ;-)

 

1 minute ago, klineka said:

 

 

I disagree, and both companies I have been at so far have had the 1 large PTO bucket, and I can't say I've really ever seen someone in the office who was so visibly sick that they shouldn't have been there. 

Plus, for people who rarely get sick, the separate sick and vacation buckets would just mean they would either end up accumulating weeks upon months of sick time, or lie about being sick so they could actually use those days, especially if their employer has a "use it or lose it" policy where you can't roll unused days over to the following year.

You just said you hated that policy of 1 PTO bucket, but then you said given the choice between those two policies you would choose the 1 PTO bucket. That doesn't make sense. Clearly the 1 PTO bucket must not be that bad of an idea if you would choose it over having separate vacation/sick buckets, right?

I have the 1 PTO bucket and I think it is perfectly fine. When I plan out my vacations and other PTO days throughout the year, I make sure I leave a couple days unused in case I get sick, and then if December comes and I haven't used those days yet, I take random Fridays or Mondays off in December since we can't roll any unused days over.

Yup

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I gave my employees 10 days sick leave per year, and one week of vacation for every year they worked for me, up to 4 weeks. That was the official time off, with pay schedule. 

If for some reason an employee needed more time off than they were owed, we worked it out, depending on the circumstances. 

By the same token, I had employees who had no problem working during their time off. 

In reality, as long as the work was getting done, everyone's time off was not scrutinized that closely. I didn't care why a person missed work.  I let my operations mgr handle that stuff if it became a problem. 

The work needed to be done, and the company had to be making a set roi. That's all I cared about. 

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We have time that's accumulated, not give out in a lump per year for sick and vacation, but we also get 3 days each year for personal time. On top of that, if we don't use any sick time for a quarter we get 8 hours paid time for "sick incentive". You can use sick time for whatever on a day, but if you are off for 3 days and use sick time then you must have a doctor slip. I also dislike having all paid time off being lumped together, but if that's how a company sets it up then so be it.

"Sick incentive" is supposed to help keep our insurance costs low by reducing the number of "sick days" we have on record. It's supposed to incentivize you to use a vacation or personal day if you are going to be off for 1 day for being sick. That way you don't lose that paid day off and the we don't have to report that day as a sick day to insurance when we get our annual review. For me, this is great because I'm so rarely sick that I just get some extra paid days off.

All in all, we have a pretty nice setup, which I prefer very much over the alternative. Also, our sick time accumulates basically without a cap, so if we end up needing to be off for an extended period of time, we still get paid and we don't lose our vacation time. For example, after about 6 years, I have 618 hours of sick time I can use for extended illness *either myself or family* without ever having to touch my vacation, personal, or sick incentive time. If you ask me, that's far superior to "you get 4 weeks pto to use however".

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7 minutes ago, klineka said:

I disagree, and both companies I have been at so far have had the 1 large PTO bucket, and I can't say I've really ever seen someone in the office who was so visibly sick that they shouldn't have been there. 

I think the problem is more people coming in when it's borderline. Of course (most) people won't show up with the stomach flu or something like that. It's more the circumstances when you could work, but you'd be miserable all day. That's when this policy incentivizes people coming into work. You end up with an unproductive employee and a strong possibility that the sickness spreads to other people.

FWIW, with a young child, I've become more annoyed at people who come into work sick. There is nothing worse than a sick 3 year old. And you bringing in your germs could get me, and thus, my child, sick. Just so you see where I'm coming from here.

7 minutes ago, klineka said:

You just said you hated that policy of 1 PTO bucket, but then you said given the choice between those two policies you would choose the 1 PTO bucket. That doesn't make sense. Clearly the 1 PTO bucket must not be that bad of an idea if you would choose it over having separate vacation/sick buckets, right?

Yeah, but I'm saying the policy doesn't make sense for the business as whole. For an individual employee, more PTO is definitely better, but not necessarily for the organization as a whole.

14 minutes ago, David in FL said:

I tend to like it.

In most cases, companies changed simply to match what was already happening.  People would, and always have, taken “sick” time for your aforementioned fun things, and still come to work while sick.

Trying to verify and manage sick time, especially the one or two days when someone is (or claims to be) sick enough to want to stay home, but not so sick as to warrant the visit to a Dr, is a nightmare.   

Now the employee can use their PTO however they want, and the company benefits from an easier to manage system.  

Just for fun....the day most often called out for being “sick” is the Monday following the Super Bowl.  Imagine that.   ;-)

A lot of this just seems like making it easier on bad managers. Managing a person being out two days isn't all that difficult (depends on the industry/job, yes). If, as a manager, you don't trust your employee when he's out for one or two days for being sick, then that's on you (either having trust issues or letting a employee take advantage of you that much). If your organization requires verification for one or two days off, I don't even know what to say. That's crazy. Most of the time, you shouldn't go to the doctor for something like the flu or a stomach flu, because they can't really help you, and you'll expose other people to it. If managers are letting people get away with calling in on the Monday after the Super Bowl over and over, that's on the manager for letting that happen.

Caveat that it depends on the job/industry - I get that sometimes you need people to be there and not being there is disruptive. And it also depends on other policies - telework, for example.

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My previous job we had separate vacation, personal, and sick time which I thought was great. We were not required to provide any dr notes for being sick, just contact your supervisor and let them know.

My new place of employment has PTO and sick days. This has also been great thus far. I've been lucky in that both places I have been employed value work life balance a lot, so using time is never an issue.

I like that they are separated because people will be more likely to use it. It's always terrible when people bring sicknesses into the office and get half the people sick. 

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Before I retired from GM, we were allowed 5 sick days per year which did not need a reason/excuse for an absence.   If you were not coming to work, it was mandatory that the hotline was notified at least 30 minutes before the start of the shift or the sick day was not approved.    For those 5 days, you didn't need an excuse but the hotline forced you to enter a code.   Our vacation time was prorated and you needed 20 years seniority to get four weeks vacation.    Vacation that was not pre-approved was not permitted.  

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  • iacas changed the title to Using Sick Days at Work
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I believe it depends on what type of position you're holding and the staffing situation.

If you're not in a tightly staffed office and your work can be cover by the other for a few days a year.... I know a guy getting messages from his HR office that he has too many hours accumulated in the "sick leave" and vacation time.  The HR actually recommended him to take some of these hours off work.

So he started making his medical and dental appointment on either Monday or Friday and taking the whole day off work.  This way he gets a long weekend every month.

Not  bad life.  Catch up with a few thing , play a round of golf, do some shopping to avoid the weekend crowd.  

 

But if someone is in a position which will influence the performance of the whole office should he take days off, then, it might not be a good idea to take "sick leave" weather the policy require a doctor's note or not.

Adult is supposed to make a reasonable decision and live with the consequences.  There will always be someone looking to "get ahead" or "cut in line", whether you want ot be in their camp, is totally up to you.   Just as long as you could live with the consequences and especially, yourself.

I believe, no matter what you do, it'll eventually catch up.  Good deeds or sneaky ones.

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