Rethinking Your Firm's Sick Days Policy

Welcome to the AccountingWEB series "Michael Alter's Dollars and Sense" by Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll. You can see all of his articles here.

It’s the time of year where everyone is sick. It’s not unlikely you’re reading this to the sounds of coughing fits and sneezing attacks in the background. It’s also a time you might be reconsidering your firm’s sick day policy heading into 2014.

It’s a topic of great interest for both employer and employees. In fact, it was the second most-read payroll story of 2013 on SurePayroll’s payroll blog.

Most companies are actually not required to give employees paid sick days, so how you handle it really depends on your company culture and your level of trust with employees. Some companies go as far as to allow unlimited paid sick days, while others give as few as three or five.

Another idea is to simply give personal days that are used at the employee’s discretion and get rid of the sick day concept entirely. Some employees prefer this because it takes ambiguity out of the process.

One thing we have learned is that creating a culture where you expect employees to come in unless they’re deathly ill usually isn’t a good idea. Sick employees in the office tend to create more sick employees. Suddenly your whole staff is decimated and productivity takes a big hit.

You also have to determine if a certain amount of the work can be done from home and whether or not you want to allow your employees to make up work while they’re recovering. Some companies are fine with this, other say, if you’re sick, you’re sick  you can’t be both productive and too ill to come in to the office.

What’s your sick policy? Have you changed it over the years? Will you change it this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, wash your hands, cover your mouth, and stay healthy. 

About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, writes the Trade Secrets column on INC.com and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.


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