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What can an employer do about regular absences?

(25 Posts)
Ferrybridge Tue 25-Sep-12 22:50:21

I work in an office with one other woman.

In the last 9 months (since I've been there) I estimate she's had 20 days off (other than AL) Sometimes it's because a DC is ill, sometimes it's her, sometimes a pet, sometimes dentist or hospital, or a crisis at home. Today it was a water infection, another time an infected toe or stomach upset. All individually reasonable reasons to be off, but so frequently?

She's front desk and I'm back-office, so when she's not there I have to cover for her and my work gets left. I know have a weeks work to do in 3 days. I am sympathetic, but I also know I would have worked through some of her complaints or arranged the appointments out of work time. (I know not always possible, but it often is)

Anyway it's not my job to manage her, but my bosses seem clueless. They know this is impacting on the company (everything I should have done today & yesterday for customers will be late). Is there anything they can do? Small business, no money for temps - I know, I do the books!

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 25-Sep-12 22:55:16

What is their absence policy? If they haven't got one they need to. Do they do back to work interviews? Do they give her a self cert form to complete?

SminkoPinko Tue 25-Sep-12 22:56:09

if you don't manage her there's not much you can do. At a lot of workplaces she would be sent to occupational health after a certain number of days off sick, though.

Viviennemary Tue 25-Sep-12 22:56:44

Most companies would question absences for reason than her own personal illness. And some have an absence policy. That is interview if absence is persistent. Surely somebody must know. For a start they could ask for a doctor's note every time she is off sick whether for one day or longer. And then a series of verbal warning, written warnings and so on. I wouldn't be very sypathetic I'm afraid as none of her absences sound very serious to me. She sounds like a real chancer to me I'm afraid.

VerySouthLondon Tue 25-Sep-12 23:01:51

Perhaps you can take it upon yourself to set a sickness absence policy up!

Every time someone has a day off sick they have to meet with their manager when they get back. They talk about why they've been off and whether work can do anything to help the employee. This continues the next time and the next time... However there should be levels. So a person can have, say, six days of sickness or three periods over a year. If they go over this they get a written warning. Then you re-set the levels for another year. Perhaps have this trigger system so that on the third time they company can dismiss them.

You'd need to look into it property and do some research but that's an idea.

Re taking time off for other things, she should be using annual leave! I'd bring it up with your manager in your next one on one meeting.

Ferrybridge Tue 25-Sep-12 23:07:02

There is something like that in place Very, they do the forms and interviews (sort of) but have never gone any further.

It is tricky for us to cover things from annual leave. We get generous holidays but they have to be taken during the firm's shutdowns, so there's no flexibility on the dates we can have (like schools). They can probably decide these absences should be unpaid, but no-one seems to have the guts heart for that conversation. She's a single mum, struggling financially and practically etc and there is a lot of sympathy for her situation

VerySouthLondon Tue 25-Sep-12 23:18:17

She's not doing herself any favours. I assume she won't be getting promoted or more money if she's being a bit useless.

I'd still bring it up with your manager.

Plenty of single mums who wouldn't take this piss.

Ferrybridge Tue 25-Sep-12 23:22:48

Thank you Very. I did speak to boss today, but she was a bit "what can we do?"

VerySouthLondon Tue 25-Sep-12 23:41:22

I suppose wgat they can do is question her a bit more, push for doctor's notes, ask she takes leave for time off etc. So many people take the piss because they can and because their managers are too frightened to pick them up on it! But it's really unfair on you smile Keep pushing and maybe offer some solutions to your manager.

SminkoPinko Wed 26-Sep-12 10:50:08

I would be wary of making this a big issue. You could easily look like the bad guy if you start writing absence policies when it's not really your role. It sounds like she's a flaky but popular person and if management are willing to work with her on the current basis I think you probably need to accept that and file it away in the annoying things I can do nothing about box.

Viviennemary Wed 26-Sep-12 11:16:39

This what can we do feebleness would really annoy me. Even if her situation is difficult the work should not be piled on other people. This is simply just not acceptable. Firstly she should not be paid for any leave taken other than because of illness. A lot of people with children struggle. But having somebody being a burden like this is not good for staff moral. It is different if somebody is going through a serious illness then nearly everybody will rally round. But just this constant taking days off for trivial reasons needs addressing.

VinegarTits Wed 26-Sep-12 11:29:36

does she enjoy her job when she is there? maybe there is deeper underlying issues, could she be depressed? could she suffer from really bad pms but uses other excuses because she is embarrassed? is there a pattern to her days off (i.e always the second tuesday of the month) how long has she worked for the company and has she always had so much sickness? and who covers her when she goes on AL?

Ferrybridge Wed 26-Sep-12 11:57:43

Thanks Vinegar, I don't think she enjoys her job exactly, but she doesn't hate it. I can't see a pattern, but perhaps should look for one. I do think she's struggling to manage work and home (no support from DCs' dad and one DS has SN) which means she's always under pressure over something, but not depressed I don't think. She does get lots of help from her mother and grandmother though.

She's worked there for about 6 years and I'm told the sickness has always been much the same. She was actually promoted to this role about 18m ago, despite that, as she is good at what she does and has a very nice way with the customers, although IMO is a bit lazy even when there. Always ready for a chat and then complaining that she's got too much to do.

AL not covered as only taken during shut down (like a school)

SminkoPinko Wed 26-Sep-12 12:11:30

It sounds like she is a highly valued member of staff if she's been promoted in full knowledge of her absence track record. Management clearly think her people skills and other qualities make up for the occasional absences and have decided to leave things be. Lucky her and poor you! But I really would back right off. Managers never thank people for telling them how to do their jobs and she will also pick up on it and your working relationship will suffer. This is precisely the kind of situation where the messenger gets shot!

VinegarTits Wed 26-Sep-12 12:18:23

i think sminko is right, its annoying but you wont do yourself any favours by trying to get managment to disapline her

it doesnt sound like she is taking the piss exactly, she sounds like she has a to cope with on her own, her absence is something youre just going to have to live with

ginmakesitallok Wed 26-Sep-12 12:20:01

What can they do? follow absence procedures and then sack her.

EldritchCleavage Wed 26-Sep-12 12:25:32

Maybe the best thing for you to do is ask your manager for a meeting for your work situation. You need hardly mention the absentee colleague at all, just point out the dire situation you are in and ask for support and suggestions for dealing with that. They may not want to take action over her absences, but surely the extra workload they generate needs to be shared, up to manager level if necessary, and not simply put on one or two people?

Ferrybridge Wed 26-Sep-12 12:30:05

They've agreed to pay me from 7:30am tomorrow, so I can start to catch up, so maybe the fact that it's cost them money will force some action.

No-one wants to see her sacked, just to see her there more often.

It will be interesting to see what time she turns up tomorrow (her official start time is 8am, mine is 9am) I already know the answer as I live very close by and see her walk past at 8:05 most days, but I must not let it wind me up grin

Aboutlastnight Wed 26-Sep-12 12:33:17

Why doesn't the business pay for a temp when she is fick? Surely thst's the issue. Your problem is you cannot do two jobs, her health is none of your business.

Aboutlastnight Wed 26-Sep-12 12:33:48

Fick? = sick ( thanks iPhone)

SminkoPinko Wed 26-Sep-12 12:37:06

They clearly don't want to though, gin! They have accepted that she is not always 100 % reliable (whether because she has that kind of personality or because she has too much on her plate or a bit of both) but want to keep her anyway, probably because they think she is shit hot in other respects. They may even have employed Ferrybridge to be the organised, reliable sidekick to their sociable, creative but occasionally flaky protegee!

Ferrybridge Wed 26-Sep-12 12:38:19

Should I take exception to that Sminko? you may well be right though smile

SminkoPinko Wed 26-Sep-12 12:51:46

No insult intended at all, I promise! But managers do try to build teams with a mix of personalities and skills. And then everyone judges each other by their own values and the organised details people fume at the creative sociable people's lateness, chattiness and failure to meet deadlines whilst they in turn are infuriated by the pedantic nitpicking, tick box attitudes and presenteeism of the organised details people!

northerngirl41 Mon 01-Oct-12 14:10:25

It's kind of difficult if they don't have a formal system of recording absences. Whereever I've worked you usually got 10 sick days a year and once they were used up, you were on statuatory sick pay. In reality this very rarely happened unless the manager thought you were taking the piss. But it was a big kick in the pants to get them back into work.

ByTheWay1 Mon 01-Oct-12 14:22:39

could be stress related - if it is a full time job and AL has to be taken at fixed points some folks can find it very stressful trying to fit life around it - I would not work in that sort of place specifically because I do find it difficult.

You need to sort out your position - what do you want from management... her job is her lookout - if management have unreasonable expectations of you because she is absent, it is not her fault it is your management's problem to resolve.. if you act like it is ok, they will assume you will take the work on, if you act like you are sniping about a colleague, it will look bad on you, so I would stick to the "I can't do 2 jobs"

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