Why not to offer a bonus or extra holiday for zero sickness absence

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employee illness
It sounds like a cracking idea, reward your employees for not taking time off sick. Time off for good behaviour! Great. Morale could improve, employees will police each other, no unplanned lost time.

However there is a downside.

Everyone gets ill and sometimes even phone in sick. Illness can happen to any one of us at any time. A cold for instance can lay one person up but another can still carry on working.

Offering a reward for zero sickness absence doesn’t mean you will stop your employees getting sick. All this will do is stop them taking time off and potentially passing on their ailments to the rest of the work force – you could then have a whole new challenge on your hands.

Employers have a duty of care for their work force. If an employee has a fit note (this replaces the old sick note) refraining them from work, then they should not return to work until they have recovered or the fit note expires. The employee may even have to return to their GP for further assessment.

Introducing a bonus or additional holiday for zero sickness could encourage or add pressure on employees to attend work when they are ill and costly mistakes could happen. This is called Presenteeism – the practice of being present at work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity or for more hours than required. Presenteeism can in some cases become the cause of illness.

Sickness absence needs to be monitored and employees require return to work interviews carried out to ensure they are fighting fit and raring to go. The best practice is to create, and then follow, an absence management policy.

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