Businesses expecting double the amount of Australia Day sickies

“Chucking a sickie” might be common Australian practice, but with Australia Day around the corner, workplace relations specialists Employsure warn employers to prepare now, before sickies are unexpectedly taken.

With Australia Day falling on a Friday this year, many will find it hard to resist the temptation of a four-day public holiday long weekend. According to Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure, Lea Fox, employers could receive double the amount of sick leave requests either side of the long weekend with Thursday 25 or Monday 29 January being the days employers must plan for.

It’s not a title to be proud of but Aussies are some of the worst in the world for “chucking a sickie”. Sickies are estimated to cost our economy $30 billion a year. However, according to Ms Fox, the impact of unplanned absenteeism in the workplace is much greater than the actual financial cost of wages. It affects sales, places unnecessary stress and morale implications on your remaining staff and customer service is also compromised.

“Ideally, leave on Thursday or Monday should be pre-planned as annual leave. It’s the unplanned days off or “sickies” that kill business and impact employers.”

Be clear

Ms Fox believes a discussion with staff is the best way to approach Australia Day.

“Tell employees they will need to put in an annual leave request if they are hoping to take a day off. For those who don’t submit one, make sure you let them know they’re expected to attend work.”

Have a leave policy

Employers could also inform staff that medical certificates would be required for any absences during this time.

“Implement a policy where workers must provide a doctor’s certificate if the sick period falls on either side of a public holiday or weekend.” Ms Fox said.

Check public holiday entitlements

It is also important that employers consider additional entitlements.

“Full-time and part-time employees who would normally work on the day that a public holiday falls, are entitled to have a day off and be paid their base pay rate. Casual employees are entitled to take the day off, but they are not entitled to be paid for that day,” Mf Fox said

“Check the provisions of the relevant Awards or Agreements, along with employment contracts for any terms relevant to a public holiday such as penalty rates or loadings.

“We hope employees wanting to take the extended break this Australia Day will do the right thing by applying for annual leave on the Thursday or Monday, rather than claiming a sickie.”