Employees calling to workplace to report they’re sick and cannot attend work for the day or two is most common form of absenteeism worldwide.
While some women and men employees are genuinely ill, others use sickness as an excuse to skip going to work while enjoying in the sick leave. This is a global phenomenon.
Generally, a boss would know whether a staff member is genuinely sick or faking illness to take a day or two off work. Regardless of your reasons to take leave, it’s highly important to call in sick to your workplace effectively.
The Global Sick Leave Pandemic
Calling in sick to workplace is indeed a global pandemic of sorts. The reason: small businesses to large corporations lose anything between 1.2 percent and 3.5 percent of their total workhours to sick leave every year, says reports by Society for Human Resources Management, Department of Labor, US National Library of Medicine and other top organizations.
Some countries such as India have an even higher rate of losing more work hours due to employees calling in sick: a staggering five percent.While some staff that call in sick to their workplace are genuinely ill, others pretend to be sick because they need the day off.
Since they’ve finished their other leave, they dig into their quota of sick leave. Other wish to leave their casual leave intact and since they enjoy good health, avail of sick leave instead. Hence calling in sick is the perk they enjoy at work.
Usually a sick leave lasts for a day to a week, depending upon the organization that offers the facility to its employees. Hence the above figures indicate the high rate of employees calling in sick to their workplace.
Human Resource experts and top brass of companies are unable to prevent employees from taking sick leave at will. This makes it a global pandemic of sorts since it causes a loss of valuable man-hours to businesses across the world.
And in some cases, sick leave also slows down growth of a company. Calling in sick should not be misused and exploited as it drastically affects even an employee’s growth in the company for the coming years.
As an employee, it’s your duty to call in sick to your workplace effectively. This will ensure that your seniors don’t view you as a person who frequently skips work by faking illness.
Also if you keep taking sick leave it will definitely put a false impression on your employer which can even restrict your salary raise in future.
Calling in Sick to Workplace Effectively
Whether you’re truly ill or want to take a day off from work, it’s necessary to call in sick to your workplace effectively.
I’ll repeat that managers and seniors can sense whether you’re lying about sickness to skip work for a day or more are or truly facing health problems at the time. Calling in sick can sound an escape to an employee but to employer it is a red flag.
Regardless of the reasons to call in sick, here’re some time tested and proven ways of how to call in sick effectively. This could help prevent you from earning a bad reputation at workplace as a person who wants to skip work under the pretext of sickness.
It would also help your seniors assign your work to a colleague or other employee to ensure that the organization doesn’t suffer due to your absence.
One major drawback of calling in sick by many employees is that their work either gets postponed or delegated which somewhere affects the work quality.
Therefore, if you’re calling in sick to your office, here’re some useful tips that would help you.
1. Fake Sick Leave
As I mention earlier, millions of employees call in sick though they’re in perfectly good health. If you need to take a sick leave in such situations, decide well in advance about the dates.
Calling in sick while you’re in good health can be difficult sometime as you are going to lie to your boss.
And on the day you require such a leave, call up your immediate senior and the person in charge at Human Resources or Administration department to inform that you wouldn’t be able to attend work for at least a day or whatever number of days you wish to avail the leave.
In such cases, honesty is the best policy. Inform your immediate senior and the HR or Admin manager that you’ve some days of sick leave to your credit and would like to utilize it.
This helps you avoid the ignominy or lying that you’re sick or faking illness. Instead of thinking about how to fake sick leave you can just be clear and honest about the situation.
From all my experience over decades in HR, I can testify confidently that such honesty goes a long way in building goodwill with the employer and concerned officials.
They will appreciate that you’re not faking illness or calling in sick to avail leave. In any case, sick leave is your right and hence, they’ll be willing to grant it without any issues.
There could be instances where the immediate senior, HR or Admin official could ask you to postpone your “sick leave” due to shortage of staff or some other important reasons. In such cases, you can take the “sick leave” at a later date.
2. Genuine Sick Leave
Things are different though if you’re taking a genuine sick leave. That’s because when you call in to report sick, your immediate senior, HR or Admin officials will know you’re truly ill. You needn’t pretend to be sick in such cases.
Often, you may have to request your spouse or partner or roommate to call the concerned persons at your workplace.
There’s nothing wrong in doing so. If your symptoms are severe, you can definitely request a friend, neighbor, spouse, your child or anyone else to call in on your behalf and request for sick leave for you.
If someone else or you’ll be calling the workplace as sick, provide the exact nature of your illness to the immediate senior, HR or Admin staff or the person to whom you report. Inform that you’ll be visiting a physician.
When you’re truly sick, it’s almost impossible to say when you’ll be able to resume work. Therefore, simply say or ask another person calling on your behalf to clearly state that you’;; be back at work as soon as you feel better.
3. Sick Leave for Chronic Illness
I’ve come across a lot of employees that suffer from chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and others.
If that’s your case, inform your seniors, HR and Admin departments that you are afflicted by chronic illness. When you inform, these officials at workplace are aware that you could fall sick with some of these symptoms without warning.
Therefore, if this is your case and you’ve fallen sick due to a chronic illness, the best thing to do is call in sick either yourself or through someone else.
In such cases too, it’s important to clearly mention that you’ll be visiting a physician for treatment.
Never give a specific deadline for resuming your work, if this is indeed your case. Because, a physician may advise you a few days of rest at home.
In certain cases, you might also require hospitalization, especially if these symptoms are severe.
4. Calling in Sick Due to Hospitalization
Sickness often strikes without warning. However, some illnesses might call for immediate hospitalization. If this ever occurs to you, the best way to call in sick is to get the physician or a nurse or responsible hospital staff to call the workplace on your behalf.
Alternatively, you can also ask your spouse or partner, friends or neighbor to inform about your sickness and hospitalization.
In such cases, inform the person who’ll call the workplace to mention the exact nature of your sickness and the number of days you would have to remain at the hospital. Also consider rest at home to recover from the disease.
Generally and as a rule, organizations are concerned about their employees. Hence, a manager or colleagues could visit you at the hospital out of concern and to enquire about your health.
Often companies do send someone to express their concern about you if you’re at a hospital.
5. Sickness Requiring Intensive Care
As I mention earlier, nobody can predict when someone would come down with an illness.
And in some cases, such sickness might require your admission to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. Obviously, you’ll not be in any state to call in sick to your workplace while at the ICU.
Here I would advise all employees to make prior arrangements, should this unfortunate eventuality ever strike.
Always prepare someone such as your spouse, children, neighbors, friends or even your GP to call in the workplace to inform that you’re sick. They need to specifically mention the illness and emphasize that you’re admitted to the ICU.
You can prepare the person who will call in sick on your behalf well in advance before the illness that requires ICU treatment strikes.
Ask at least two persons to call your workplace. Tell them to provide specific details such as the name of the hospital, illness that requires ICU treatment, time of admission and names of physicians and consultants treating you.
Unfortunately, many people around the world are unable to contact their workplaces when they’re admitted to a hospital or ICU. This leaves your immediate seniors, HR and Admin departments guessing about your absence from work.
If it’s a long absence without calling in, the organization you work for can terminate your services in some cases or cut your pay. In some countries, they declare such staff as “absconding.”
Now this is an undesirable situation that you should avoid at all costs. Of course, the employer will relent when they know you were at an ICU and restore your job and pay. However, it’s best to prepare at least two people to call in on your behalf.
If you’re conscious and in a state to speak, you could also ask the doctors to call in on your behalf by giving them the contact persons and contact details of your workplace. In most cases, the doctors will make some arrangements to inform your office or make the call themselves.
6. Follow Up Call with an Email
As a rule, always follow up your call to workplace with an email requesting sick leave for one or more days. This shows you have excellent business etiquette and are a professional at work.
Regardless whether you’re taking a fake sick leave or genuine one, require hospitalization or ICU treatment, it’s best to follow up your call with an email.
If for any reasons you can’t call up, ask the person calling the workplace for you to send an email to your employer.
Address such email to your immediate senior, HR and Admin departments. And if their specific email IDs aren’t available for any reason, you could ask them to simply send one to the general email of the company.
In the subject space, specifically draw the email to the attention of the concerned person followed by the words “sick leave”. If another person is sending the email, ask them to write “sick leave for Ms./ Mr.” in the subject too.
An email is record of your request for sick leave. The concerned departments can take a print out and maintain it in their files.
Therefore, always follow up the call with an email. Ideally, the email should be sent almost immediately after the phone call. This is possible nowadays thanks to smartphones with Internet connectivity.
7. Sick Leave With Pay
Now this is something extremely important. Regardless whether you’re taking a fake sick leave or one for genuine illness and hospitalization if necessary, always mention specifically during the call that it should be paid sick leave.
As I mention earlier, all employers offer a few days of sick leave with pay.
Usually, it’s about seven to 10 days per calendar year. And if you’ve taken some sick leave with pay and a few days remain, the rest of the days of sick leave would have to be without pay.
For example, if you have 10 days sick leave and have utilized seven days, you have three days balance leave. But if you require another seven days leave, the employer will usually offer three days with pay and four days without pay.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Especially if you’re at hospital or admitted to an ICU, the employer might waive the loss of pay clause and pay you full wages.
This is usually done as a sign of goodwill to the employee and to ensure they’re not short of cash after some serious illness. It is also meant to help you pay for costs that a health insurance plan won’t usually cover.
8. Sick Leave Without Pay
In most cases, sick leave without pay will be given if you’ve finished all the days allotted by the employer. Therefore, very often you may have to take sick leave without pay if you’re not genuinely ill.
And if you’re sick but the illness isn’t serious, an employer has the right to deduct your pay for days you remain absent from work.
Therefore, be very careful while taking sick leave without pay for fake reasons. And use your sick leave with care because often, loss of pay for a day or two can send your personal finances into a tailspin.
And even if you can afford, taking leave without pay for fake sickness is a bad practice. I suggest that every employee avoid taking such fake sick leave.
9. Offer a Medical Certificate
A medical certificate or certificate of fitness to work will be issued by your general physician if you’re genuinely sick.
This can help you avoid loss of pay. In fact, several employers make it compulsory for employees to provide a medical certificate or certificate of fitness if the sick leave spans for more than a single day.
Therefore, if you’re truly sick, consult a physician. And request for a medical certificate addressed to the HR or Admin departments of your employer. This shows that you’re not faking sickness, that you were genuinely ill and took medical treatment.
In some instances, an employer can ask for a medical certificate even if you’re absent for a day on sick leave. And if you cannot provide one, they may adjust your annual leave or casual leave or even cut pay for the sick leave.
10. Always Apologize for Any Inconvenience
The best way to end a phone call and email when you call in sick or get someone to report that you’re ill is to apologize for any inconvenience that your absence will cause to the employer.
It is only correct to send such an apology. That’s because in your absence, the employer will have to get the work done from some other staff members. And in other instances, your absence could cause some losses to the organization.
If you’re not the one making the call or sending the email due to hospitalization or ICU treatment, inform the person who would call and email on your behalf.
As I said earlier, this requires you to prepare at least two persons to meet any emergencies if you’re at a hospital or ICU.
Before concluding, I will repeat that your sick leave for whatever reason does put your employer through a lot of difficulties. Hence, it’s best policy to take sick leave only when you’re genuinely ill.
Taking sick leave without reason can cause you a lot of problems such as poor work record and loss of pay. It also translates as inability to take sick leave when you truly need it with pay.
These situations are best avoided. Therefore, follow the tips above and get the best of sick leave when you’re actually ill.