Author Topic: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often  (Read 6691 times)

Rekon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 124
Hello,

I'm a supervisor and I have an employee that calls in often because

a.  she has to care for her 1 year old daughter because she is ill... or
b.  she doesn't have a baby sitter

How should I address this?  It's pattern and happens often every month.  This is impacting her work performance. 

Also, she used up all her sick time and is in a negative balance.   

Has anyone had a similar experience?     

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 12:52:10 AM »
What does her employment contract/agreement state regarding excessive sick leave?

Are there provisions for her to be able to take leave without pay once her leave balance is exhausted?

I'd guess it depends upon the contract/agreement and employment regulations in your area, and the nature of the job. It does sound a pretty legitimate reason though.

Does she have alternatives (ie: daycare centres) available?

Would going down the path of warnings/dismissal be seen as discriminatory (discriminating against parental/carer status)?

(I'm not a HR professional or manager though) :)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 02:06:09 AM by alsoknownasDean »

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8796
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2015, 04:44:33 AM »
You need to talk with your staff member and ask what she intends to do about it. Advise her that she has used too many sick days, and that you will need to talk with HR about it, but you would like the two of you to work out a plan together, so that a ton of bricks doesn't fall on her head. You need to tell her you cannot (or maybe you can) sign off on a plan without HR approval. What is happening with her SO in all this?

Sometimes people don't realise the situation they are in - give her the dates and show her the time off she has taken. Talk with your boss about it and ask what he has done in similar situations. There may be special circumstances with young children under 5. Where I have worked, parents have the opportunity to ask for part time work until the child is 5, so you also need to be on top of your workplace rules - ask HR for a copy and read them before you have the talk.

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2015, 06:16:57 AM »
Am I the only 1 that doesn't see how one sick day off per month would significantly impact a persons performance?

Not defending the employee, I just expected to read they were taking off every week.

GoldenStache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 239
  • Location: Washington, DC
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2015, 06:35:35 AM »
@EconDiva

How should I address this?  It's pattern and happens often every month.  This is impacting her work performance. 

I took often every month as multiple times a month.  I could be wrong in that it could be 1 day a month in a somewhat regular pattern.  My office earns 1 sick day per month, some take that sick day as soon as they earn it. 

@Rekon
What is your policy for the amount of leave someone can be negative?  I had an employee reach that limit and I informed them that they could not take any additional paid days (policy) until all of that leave was earned, balance of zero.  They called in two additional days in that pay period and got LWOP.  Huge difference in their check because of benefits of 40hrs vs less than 40hrs.  They never called in again and quickly repaid the leave.  Different scenario though, this person just enjoyed being at home vs at work. 

erae

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 06:54:10 AM »
Alison Green's blog, AskAManager.org, addressed this question.  She even provided the manager(OP) with talking points:

http://www.askamanager.org/2011/09/how-to-deal-with-an-employee-who-takes-too-much-sick-leave.html


wtjbatman

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1313
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Missouri
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2015, 07:32:55 AM »
I would sit down with them and have a seek to understand conversation. If they continued their pattern of excessive absences, I would conduct a coaching for improvement. If that didn't work, I would do a CCA (Coaching Corrective Action). If they continued, put them on Final Warning. If it still continued, terminate employment. Document everything.

Lia-Aimee

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2015, 09:36:46 AM »
HR here.


Which country (state, province) are you in and is this a union or non-unionized environment?

Have a sit down with this employee, let her know that her sick days are in the negative.  Ask her what you can do in order to support her.  Let her know how her absenses are problematic to you.  Try to help her come up with a plan to avoid taking additional sick days - don't plan this for her, just facilitate her planning. 

Document the crap outta this meeting, then go to your HR department, Legal, your VP, or all of em.  Depending on your jurisdiction attempts at termination could be legally tricky (or could be bad for public/investor relations) so use all the professionals at your disposal.

DeepEllumStache

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3393
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Hiding under my desk
  • I came, I saw, I made it awkward
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 10:23:56 AM »
HR here.


Which country (state, province) are you in and is this a union or non-unionized environment?

Have a sit down with this employee, let her know that her sick days are in the negative.  Ask her what you can do in order to support her.  Let her know how her absenses are problematic to you.  Try to help her come up with a plan to avoid taking additional sick days - don't plan this for her, just facilitate her planning. 

Document the crap outta this meeting, then go to your HR department, Legal, your VP, or all of em.  Depending on your jurisdiction attempts at termination could be legally tricky (or could be bad for public/investor relations) so use all the professionals at your disposal.

+1 to this

If you're talking about the US, then the employee may qualify for FMLA.  The union or non item is also important since a unionized employee's contract may have very specific guidelines to adhere to. 

I would personally outline the situation with my boss first to see if he or she had any tips on how to approach the situation or knew of anything specifically in a legal/HR context for your jurisdiction.

NoraLenderbee

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1255
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2015, 10:41:42 AM »

  I had an employee reach that limit and I informed them that they could not take any additional paid days (policy) until all of that leave was earned, balance of zero.  They called in two additional days in that pay period and got LWOP. 

Wow, life without parole is a pretty harsh punishment for just taking a couple of unauthorized sick days. ;)

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1720
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2015, 10:43:52 AM »
Retired HR manager here.  You've gotten some good advice.  I'll second talking to HR to see how things work in your country/company.  In general you need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting where you spell out the problems her attendance causes, consequences if it continues and come up with a plan of action.

To the commenters how think monthly unscheduled absences shouldn't be a problem, easy for you to say.  If you were the co-worker/boss who had to constantly cover for another employee you might feel different.  Or if you were the customer who had to waste time standing in a long line because a front line employee called in missing.  Or you didn't get a promised car repair done that you were counting on because you only have one car.  Or a manager who needed HR advice but couldn't because their rep was out sick - again.

Future Lazy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 350
  • Age: 27
  • Location: Northglenn, Colorado
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2015, 10:45:18 AM »
Up front, I'm not a manager/HR, but I think there's solutions that I didn't see anyone mention, things that involve helping more than formal reprimand...


Is it possible for her to work from home on the days that she's unable to come in? If yes, provide her with the means to do so?

Can her overall schedule be made more flexible, such as working four days for ten hours, allowing her to take a "free day" every week?

Does her position earn a low income, making daily child care difficult to afford? Could this be changed?

Is the company willing and able to provide child care as a benefit in some way (such as payment directly to a facility)?


I think it would be really rough to have to let someone go based on too many absences, when they're a single(?) parent whose absences are kid related. That situation seems like it would be good for nobody.

Good luck figuring out a good solution for both parties!

GetItRight

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 629
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2015, 10:54:12 AM »
I'm of the mind that you do what is required to be there. No crying about bad weather, children, car/commute trouble, etc... You take the steps required to do the job you agreed to. PTO at most companies I've worked is plenty to cover a reasonable level of near death experiences, surgery, hospitalization and so forth that may occur. Firing someone for not showing up frequently because she is caring for a child is no different than the guy who doesn't show up because his car is always broke, or he's always sick, or there's always a crisis with his house, or legal issues, or whatever. All these reasons for chronically not showing up come down to choices people make.

Two options that I see...

1. Warn then fire

If the work this person does is such that she needs to be there all the time and not being present is detrimental to the company then you have an unreliable employee and should give warning, discuss possible options (come early/late leave early/late, work remotely, etc.) and fire the person if continued missed work affects the business.

2. Unpaid time off

If the missed days are not affecting the business (you implied it was though) then you can allow unpaid time off or consider changing this person to part time with an easier schedule for her.

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8796
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2015, 12:53:39 PM »

  I had an employee reach that limit and I informed them that they could not take any additional paid days (policy) until all of that leave was earned, balance of zero.  They called in two additional days in that pay period and got LWOP. 

Wow, life without parole is a pretty harsh punishment for just taking a couple of unauthorized sick days. ;)
A couple of unauthorized sick days after having used their balance and being warned! All that happened is that the employee wasn't paid when they were not entitled to be paid.

Sometimes when you have a talk about these things, the employee feels a huge release of a burden they have carried. I once had someone who came back to work from illness on reduced hours (by doctors orders), but he wasn't making it through the week on even the hours specified. I asked him to go back to the doctor (twice) and get the doctor to set hours that the employee could manage. Finally, the doctor said he shouldn't be back at work at all for another three months. My employee was so relieved that he didn't have to work, and could rest and recuperate.

The employee in OPs situation could be using her kid as an excuse to get out of work. If the woman has a chronically sick kid, she needs to understand that, and adjust her work/life balance accordingly. Work can help, by allowing her to go part time, allowing her to take off extra time without pay... but ultimately they are not a welfare organization, and the work she was employed to do needs to get done.

southern granny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 01:09:21 PM »
I had the exact situation several years ago.  I had a meeting (documented) with the employee.  I asked her to submit a written plan of action of how she could deal with the situations 1) if the child was sick and 2)if the babysitter was sick.   She did give me a plan where she noted names of alternate sitters.  It did not completely resolve the situation, but it did improve it enough that we did not have to go any further in the disciplinary process.  Hopefully as the child gets a little older it will be less of a problem.  But as others have stated you must be very careful to follow the company or organizational policies.

Numbers Man

  • Guest
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2015, 03:44:40 PM »
I have mixed feelings about this topic. Yes - an absent co-worker can be a pain for the rest of the workers and a sore spot for the boss. I think there needs to be a meeting between the employee and her manager or HR and for all parties to come to a workable solution. For example, stop taking planned vacations and use your day offs to care for your sick child. Others mentioned telecommuting if feasible and as long as it's not invoked constantly.

I rather err on the side of empathy for a single parent that for whatever reason has been ditched by the other parent. Even in the event of a divorce the other former partner should step in and help but it's usually just one parent holding the bag.

Pennsylvanian

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2015, 04:41:54 PM »
When I deal with these types of employee situations, I express compassion for their setbacks and challenges but firmly explain that the arrangement is ultimately one of trading labor for pay, and one of us isn't providing the obligated part of the arrangement. I also make it clear that when you have no backup plan for a predictable and repeated occurrence, that is an employee problem, and not a burden the employee should expect the company to share or accommodate repeatedly.

With employees that chronically abuse goodwill, you need to draw the line and hold the line. Thankfully, they are rare in my experience and resolve the issue pretty promptly once it is made clear it will no longer be tolerated. Or they are ultimately choosing to orchestrate their own dismissal.

Morale will nosedive if you allow one employee to abuse the compassion and goodwill of a manager.

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8796
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2015, 06:10:54 PM »
With employees that chronically abuse goodwill, you need to draw the line and hold the line. Thankfully, they are rare in my experience and resolve the issue pretty promptly once it is made clear it will no longer be tolerated. Or they are ultimately choosing to orchestrate their own dismissal.
Unfortunately I had to deal with too many of these types when I worked. Sometimes the issue was resolved pretty quickly. The one who took the cake "worked" less than 4 hours a day - and had got away with it for years before I was gifted him to manage. When I asked him about it, I discovered his children went to three different schools - located some distance from one another. He took the children to school in the morning, and thus arrived after 10am. He picked them up after school, so needed to leave at about 2:30pm. He also took long lunches - generally from 12noon to 2pm. He did occasionally come back after 6pm to do more "work". The HR person who attended our discussions was completely flabbergasted that someone could expect to work thse hours.

He did reform. People were amazed. Then I left. I was told a few years later that he had gone back to the same tricks later on. Unfortunately he was FI and owned more houses than anyone in these forums. Before I was his boss, once I was working late, and he arrived, used the photocopier to copy a title (he left the title in the photocopier), and then rang up someone who was a referee for someone wanting to rent!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 06:13:56 PM by deborah »

Calvawt

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 334
  • Location: Central CA
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2015, 08:27:22 PM »
In California that would be protected time up to half of the annual sick leave accrual.

I would have a conversation with the employee about it and let her know the expectations.  Be sure to have examples of poor quality work if you have them.

If it is not protected where you are, you need to document it as excessive absence per your company policy starting after the conversation.  Be sure you treat other employees the same way and start going forward to avoid causing problems by treating one employee differently.

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2015, 09:04:02 PM »
I would speak to the employee about it unofficially first and let them know that they need to straighten up.  I would only go to HR is the employee continued the behavior.  Giving her fair warning before involving HR would be very fair.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: Managers/ HR pros... Need advice with employee that calls in often
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2015, 09:31:06 PM »
MMMdude.   That comment is inappropriate and uncalled for.  Check the forum rules please.