My staff are taking sickies. What should I do?

Dear Aunty B,

Three of my staff rang in sick with gastro this morning. My marketing assistant, production manager and my PA are all away.

I too am sick – sick of people taking sickies, especially on Friday! What can I do apart from venting to you?

(Please don’t print my name as I know my marketing assistant reads SmartCompany.)




Dear Anonymous,

The old sickie – or as employees like to call them, mental health day.

One survey showed that gastro accounts for 20% of reasons given for people being absent from work. Just think about that. On any given day, one in five people are away from work claiming to be perched over the porcelain. What is more, 25% of those sickies occur on a Monday.


Other surveys have shown that over a third of Australians call in sick one day a year when they are actually healthy. Men are more likely to take a sickie than women.


It’s highly annoying when staff take the day off when you know they are not sick. On the other hand, people do get sick – and sick of work.


If the absences are always before or after a weekend or major holidays, point this out to the employee so they know you don’t live under a rock.

I also take staff aside and ask about any problems with work if they are taking a lot of sick days.

You could also negotiate a day in lieu with the employee if the employee has been working extremely hard.

And do remember; under new WorkChoices laws, employees are entitled to 10 days personal leave a year, which includes sick leave.


If you have any good tips for preventing sickies, send them in to [email protected] and we’ll publish them.




Leigh in Western Australia writes: Before pointing the finger, I’d be checking the workplace and making sure it isn’t making people sick. A few years ago a dirty water dispenser was making me feel very ill. Gardia was the problem. Sickies aren’t a problem in the area where I work, thanks to the casualisation of the workforce.


Geoff Black writes: Assuming that your staff take you seriously, there are three kinds of staff health problems:

  • Genuine ones
  • Self inflicted (excessive nightclubbing, drinking, and [mostly] young female staff starving themselves with the result that they are always run down).
  • Staff who don’t care enough about your business to come to work.

The first group should be treated with compassion. The second group need to have cause and effect, and its impact on your business, explained.

The third group should be tolerated until you can find better.


What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!




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