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The HR Forum

Hi Everyone,

I'd really appreciate if anyone can share their experience of how their companies deal with workers who are 'too sick' to come into the office yet feel well enough to work from home.Is it allowed ?Do you have a policy on this subject? Do you treat each instance as an individual case?

In reality I am a little bit on the fence here with this one because on one hand, the employee welfare should come first and we could have a blanket policy to say if you are too sick to come in then you do not work,rest, get well and then come back in when you are fit and also this way it can help to ensure they are keeping work and home life separate.However on the other hand, is it better to allow them to do some work, after all they may be getting paid anyway?

I do want us as a company to appreciate how important it can be to exercise some flexibility but at the same time, I don't want us to breed the culture where the easy option is to stay in your PJs and work from home, not that I am implying this is the case for any of our staff. We do actually have a very low absence record but the figures may be a little skewed as we've allowed some to work from home and productivity will be less but their records don't show them as off sick.

If anyone does have some good experience of the pro's and con's they've found from their companies then I'd be very grateful if you could share.

Many thanks

Clare

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Replies

  • we have exactly the same issue.  i take look at each case individually but now i make a note on their record to say they were unwell but worked at home.  if someone has broken a limb for instance they may be able to work, if they have a bad tum they may also between loo trips be able to.  we do not encourage it but in the age of technology we understand that some people within reason will wish to.

    obviously if your receptionist says she'll work from home that might be a problem ;-)

  • Hi All,

    Again thanks for further feedback and I am glad to see that I am not the only one with this dilemma. I think like many of you, I will continue to handle each instance on a case by case situation, as long as the staff welfare is not at risk or like Lynne mentioned, the insurance will cover this.

    Thanks

    Clare

  • Hi, for us it mainly depends on the individual.  We've recenlty had a couple of people call in sick, and they've openly addmitted that they  felt too rough to work and woudlnt give their normal output to asked for it to be recorded as sick so they could spend the day in bed to pull themselves round to limit the time they were actually off work.

     

    Thanks

    Andrea

  • Hi all,

    An interesting conundrum that I get asked all too often by our managers.  My answer is usually to throw it back to them - it's a case where manager discretion has to play a part, as no two sickness absence cases are necessarily the same.  I do provide advice on how each case would normally be handled but the decision rests with the manager.  Where possible I would urge that someone unable to come to work through sickness should be treated as off sick, and they should be expected to not do work at home.  Even if they feel well enough, it may well hinder their recovery if they choose to get stuck into discussion/decision situation even if only by email. 

    Steve

  • Hi Clare

    An interesting discussion, I have also dealt with this situation and would agree with what has been said. I would also add that, if you haven't already done so, it is worth checking your company insurance to make sure you remain covered. 

    Lynne

  • Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all your feedback and I do think we'll continue to operate flexibility but ensure that it does suit the needs of the business but also that the employees welfare is taken into consideration.

    I understand Sarah's point when people are answering the odd emails from home then it does raise the question from other staff.

    Most employees with us don't have the option to be able to make a choice but where they do because they have a laptop then this is where we can currently flexible with those people.

    I'm glad that nobody has come up with any real negatives or concerns, other than staff welfare of course, that means we'd have to really rethink how we currently operate.

    Thanks again and if anyone else does choose to share how their organisations operate, I'd still be glad to hear this.

    Clare

  • Hi Clare

    Great question, its a tough one I'm a big believer if you are sick then you are sick and you should not work from home and recover from your illness.  But the reality is that for some roles e.g. senior ones then it is sometimes more stressful not to reply to the odd email even though you are ill.  It can also become a problem when it is not clear to others if someone is sick, or working from home, especially if the illness is stress or anxiety related.

    I hope this helps

    Sarah

  • Clare

    This is a good question and I think its hard to have a one size fits all approach. The primary desire for any reputable employer is to ensure their employee gets better as quickly as possible, without spreading illness through the rest of the workforce. If the employee has reported in 'sick', I have always treated it as such - and ensured that the employee knows that they are not expected to work whilst on sick leave. This seems to encourage the employee back to work more quickly. As an aside, I've found that working from home whilst sick can point to an employee working too hard, so an empathetic chat on return to work is useful to ensure there's no other underlying reason for avoiding the workplace. 

  • Hi Clare

    We have had similar discussions this week and I don't have an answer to this either.

    We have run absence reports for this month which are very low compared to the number of people we know have been off ill. Many employees who have come down with a cold are 'Working from Home'. We are flexible and generally allow this rather than spreading germs around the office, but the employee is not necessarily working at 100% productivity. Should this therefore be logged as a sick day(s), or not at all? Generally we leave it down to the manager's discretion as to whether or not they think the employee output is high/low enough to be logged as off so yes, we do look at it on an individual case by case basis.

    I agree - it's a very blurred line and is skewing our figures. Interested to hear other people's thoughts on this.

    Thanks
    Lucy

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