The scourge of high absenteeism
Chronic absenteeism remains one of the biggest problems facing companies around the country. The management of employees, who abuse their leave, can often be a delicate process especially when there are personal reasons or illness, disease and injuries which have occurred and may be contributing factors to the absenteeism of the employee.
When excessive absenteeism is being investigated, the employee stands the chance of facing disciplinary action, which may lead to termination of employment. In May of 2019, SA Stats announced that South Africa’s unemployment rate is at a 15-year high of 27.6%. With stats like this, and a weakened rand resulting from increased numbers of wealthy South African’s leaving the country, all while businesses are closing their doors, or facing liquidation at an alarming rate, losing a job can be catastrophic for the employee and their family.
Wilful and persistent absenteeism is a serious offence which companies cannot afford to shoulder the financial costs of. Loss of production for any reason can jeopardize the ability of the company to sustain itself and so it is in the interest of business, that Employers manage serious absenteeism very carefully, in a fair and consistent manner. While the onus is on the Employee to prove reasonable and certifiable reasons for absenteeism, the onus is equally on the Employer to ensure substantive and procedural fairness when it comes to disciplining employees as a result of serious absenteeism.
Serious Workplace Absenteeism
Defined by its length and consistency of occurrences, serious absenteeism may result from a combination of issues. However the key is to identify when an employee is taking advantage of a lack of absenteeism management, to enjoy time away from work with no repercussions. Employers must fairly and consistently establish reasons for absenteeism, record absenteeism and communicate to employees the importance of attendance at the workplace.
How to reduce absenteeism
If you company does not already have an official Leave policy and is experiencing low workplace attendance, now is the time to establish one. A Leave Policy will advise the Employees of their rights in terms of the different types of leave and under which circumstances the different types of leave apply. As well as establishing the minimum requirements regarding how and when to communicate one’s absence from the workplace and in the event of unexpected absence, how to ensure the correct documentation is provided, for the purposes of recording leave. When introducing a new policy to the company, the Employer is not required to consult with the Employees. However, in terms of Employment Equity, consultation is required to ensure a fair workplace and establishing affirmative action measures. It is highly recommended then, that if you are a designated employer, that you consult your Employment Equity committee so they can review the policy for barriers to equity, and then share the policy with the rest of your employees, for their input, prior to simply publishing the policy.
Dealing with Chronic Absenteeism
Should you company already have a Leave policy which is in effect, consider the implementation of an Employee Attendance Policy. This will further define what is considered serious absenteeism and the company’s approach to dealing with it. This includes discovering the cause of server absenteeism and providing support to employees, where appropriate.
For assistance with serious absenteeism in your company, contact KZNEIA.