With Australia Day falling on a Tuesday this year, some of your employees might be tempted to chuck a sickie on Monday; a sneaky move so that they can enjoy a four-day weekend! While your employee may very well be sick if you believe they’re being dishonest, what can you do as an employer? If you receive the inevitable call on Monday morning, here are some tips to help you understand your employer rights and obligations.

When can an employee take sick leave?

Employees may take paid personal or carer’s leave where the employee is:

  1. not fit for work because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the employee; or
  2. required to provide care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household because of a personal illness or injury affecting the member or because of an unexpected emergency affecting the member.

What notice is an employee required to provide?

A worker taking paid personal or carer’s leave must advise you of the period, or expected period, of the leave as soon as practicable. This may be as simple as a phone call, SMS or email informing you that they will not be attending work either because they are unfit for work or because they are required to provide care and support to a member of their immediate family/household. When providing notice of their absence, employee’s must comply with any company policies or procedures when calling in sick. For example, some employers may have a policy which states that employees must call, rather than sending a text message.

How can you stop workers chucking a sickie?

While some workers may take the opportunity to score themselves a long weekend, employers should be aware of their ability to request evidence for any of these ‘sick days’. Employees who are game enough to enjoy a four-day weekend need to be able to prove that they absent for a legitimate reason. Employers may require the employee to produce evidence that would satisfy a reasonable purpose that the leave is being taken for a permissible occasion – that is, the leave is taken for one of the reasons outlined above.

You should implement a clear policy in relation to your workers taking paid personal / carer’s leave, including how they are expected to inform you and any evidence you require them to provide.

What can you do if your employee goes on a bender?

It’s no surprise that you probably have the same concern for the day after Australia Day. A recent survey has found that 16 per cent of Australians have admitted to taking a sickie after the public holiday at least once, making it the most popular day of the year for Aussie employees to fake an illness or injury.

Just like any other day when an employee calls in sick, you have the right to request medical evidence that the employee was absent for a legitimate reason. Whether a doctor will provide a medical certificate to an employee who is hungover or not is ultimately a call for a qualified practitioner.

If you have any doubts over any medical certificates provided, you may seek further clarification from the doctor who signed it.

For more information on paid personal / carer’s leave, contact the enableHR team.