So you’ve got an employee, let’s call them Alex. Two weeks ago Alex made a holiday request for today, but there were already too many other folk off, so Alex’s manager refused the request. As you were grabbing your morning coffee this morning, Alex’s manager approaches you; Alex hasn’t turned up for work after all. Sad face.
What Should You Do?
Did Alex call in sick as per your sickness policy, or did they simply not show up for work?
If they didn’t show up and didn’t call, then it does look bad, but don’t go all Arnold Schwarzenegger right away. Sit down with Alex when they return to work and find out the details – there could be a genuine reason. If they don’t have an acceptable answer, then of course, you should follow your usual disciplinary procedures.
If they called in sick, then this is where it gets tricky. Remember, there’s always the chance that this could be a genuine coincidence. Don’t go in both guns loaded and accuse them of pulling a sickie, have a chat and see what information they give up. After that, if you do feel that Alex is pulling a fast one, then you are within your right to discipline them. HR Consultant Lindsay Muers recently told us:
“Employment law says your decision can be based on reasonable belief not like in a court of law where it has to be proven, so if you genuinely believe its conduct then you can discipline if you desire.”
However, all of that said, even if you do feel disciplinary action is justified that doesn’t necessarily mean you should take it. HR Consultant Keith Phillips suggests:
“If it’s upset you that much then you can investigate and if you feel you have enough evidence to suggest they have genuinely gone absent without leave you can discipline them but I’d say it’s a pretty extreme response. A verbal chat to warn them never to pull the same kind of trick again would be a better route.”
Make Sure You Have the Evidence
If you are going to discipline Alex, then it helps to have evidence that the holiday request was made and refused in the first place. If you don’t have a robust holiday request process in place already, now is the time to revisit that and start making changes. That’s where a tool such as The Holiday Tracker can help, employees make all holiday requests and managers approve or refuse them in once place. It also keeps an audit trail of all of these actions which can be easily used to pull together the evidence you seek.
Whatever the reason for the absence, if you’re dealing with a valuable employee then launching into disciplinary procedures might be a heavy handed approach. However, if this isn’t the first time this has happened, or the employee is already on your watch list, then you’re within your rights to discipline them. Just make sure it’s handled fairly and efficiently.