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Navigating Sick Leaves in the Workplace

Navigating Sick Leaves in the Workplace

Navigating Sick Leaves in the Workplace

With the winter season in full swing, employers may be concerned about the impact this can have on sick leave in Ontario workplaces. Handling short and long-term sick leave can be quite a daunting task to manage successfully.

Unforeseen absences can impact your organization’s productivity and bottom line. It can result in communication failures, as well as delays in task delivery and project completion. What can your organization do to make sure you manage sick leaves effectively to reduce the impact this can have on your business?

Policies and Procedures

Your organization should have clear and concise sick leave policies that describe how different types of leaves are managed and the responsibilities an employee has in terms of providing notice and documentation.

Include the following guidelines in your sick leave policies:

– How employees can notify employers of an illness
– When a medical note is required
– Sick pay arrangements
– Consequences for not complying with the sick leave polices

Make sure your sick leave policies cover these guidelines and ensure that it is included in all training materials and made available to employees.

Legal Requirements

Are employees entitled to paid sick days in Ontario?

The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, does not contain any specific provisions pertaining to sick leave but it does include a provision providing for Personal Emergency Leave (PEL). With the Ontario government’s recent passing of Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, all employees who have been employed by an employer for one week or longer will be eligible to take up to ten (10) days, of which, the first two (2) are paid, of a job-protected leave per calendar year. This will be applicable to all employees for such reasons as personal illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to certain family members. While employers retain the right to request for evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances to confirm that employee is entitled to the leave, employers cannot request documentation from qualified health practitioners to substantiate a Personal Emergency Leave day.

It is important to note that changes to Personal Emergency Leave need to be considered and reconciled with other ESA Leaves. Speak with a Human Resources expert to understand how this Leave interacts with other legislatively mandated leaves and ensure it is implemented correctly in your organization.

Measuring and Monitoring

Having an infrastructure in place to measure and monitor employee sick leave is essential to helping your organization reduce the risk of abuse and ensure problems are effectively handled without causing too much harm to your bottom line. Monitoring sick leave will also enable you to identify and deal with different types of leave in an effective way. For example, an employee on long-term sick leave should be treated differently from an employee who frequently calls in sick on a Friday. Additionally, if you discover that your organization has high levels of sick leave, dig a little deeper. Speak to employees and find out their reasons for calling in sick and look into how you can increase employee engagement for your organization.

Sick leave is a serious matter which can greatly impact your organization’s bottom line. Setting out clear policies, understanding your legal requirements, monitoring absences and early intervention is crucial to helping you manage the issues and hopefully minimize sick leaves for your company.

To create sick leave policies for your organization that covers the necessary grounds or to ensure your existing policies are up to par, reach out to MaxPeople. Contact us today to speak with one of our HR experts for more information.