We’ve all been there — it starts as a runny nose but quickly grows into an illness that will invariably keep us from working for days on end. The flu season is no joke. For most companies that is the time of the year when they deal with the most sick day requests. It’s important that companies are able to foster an environment where employees are able to focus on their health.

For HR professionals, working to build a revamped sick leave policy can be a major turning point for the company. It’s in your best interest to keep sick employees at home. You don’t want them coming in, spreading germs, and causing the illness to spread throughout your company.

As you look to create a sick leave policy that makes the most sense for your business, here are some tips that you should take into consideration:

What is Sick Leave?

Sick leave is a type of paid or unpaid leave that employees can use when they feel under the weather, giving them time away from the office to avoid spreading germs to others and to rest and recover. There are currently no federal laws on the books that require employers offer paid sick days.

There are, however, ten states (and Washington D.C.) that do require paid sick leave. Those states include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

However, just because your state does not require that you offer sick leave does not mean that you should not go above and beyond their requirements to offer it anyway. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 74% of employees have access to paid sick leave at their current job.

You never know when an employee will fall ill, and you don’t want to pressure them to come into the office and risk getting others sick. Most companies give employees a set number of sick days or allow employees to accrue sick time based on the number of hours that they have worked.

If you find that your company’s current sick leave policy is lacking, there are a few reasons why you may want to consider revamping your sick leave policy, including:

Sick Leave and Mitigating Absences

One of the biggest benefits of a strong sick leave policy is the fact that it will mitigate other absences throughout your organization. When employees come into work sick, they are more likely to get others sick as well. That can lead to a cascading effect where large groups of employees are all out at the same time, which can lead to bottlenecks in your production processes. More than 4 million workers miss work in the United States during the flu season.

A strong sick leave policy can help to keep this from happening. By facilitating an environment where your employees feel comfortable taking a day off work when they aren’t feeling well, they can avoid coming into work during the times when the illness is most contagious and mitigate the chances that it will spread throughout your workforce.

Sick Leave and Remote Work

Because of advancements in modern technology, you can bolster your sick leave policy by giving your employees options with how they handle their illness. Along with the ability to call in sick when they feel like they can not be productive, you can also offer your employees the ability to telecommute (work remotely) when they are feeling under the weather, but not sick enough to work from home.

Giving them this option provides them with a lot of flexibility. You can reduce absences during the sick season by giving employees the ability to choose to work from home with permission. They can still be productive, but don’t have to spend the day watching bad daytime television and eating canned soup.

While not every company prefers to leave remote work on the table for employees that are feeling under the weather, it can be a great way to reduce total absences while giving your employees options.

Attract Better Candidates

When it comes to attracting highly qualified candidates — sick leave policies are a definitive part of the equation. Offering a better (and more understanding) sick leave policy will make it easier for your organization to attract highly qualified candidates to your open positions.

Your sick leave policies are, in effect, a bargaining chip that you have against your competition when it comes to attracting talent. Applicants know that vacation time and sick days play a role in their overall satisfaction with their job. Companies that offer better packages are able to attract higher levels of talent and keep their options open. 

Improve Employee Satisfaction

Employees that feel valued and respected are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs. Installing a more substantial sick leave policy will not only help them to feel more secure in their work but are likely to treat illness more seriously in their personal lives as well. A generous sick leave policy keeps your teams happy, which improves the environment internally and helps to foster a positive company culture that bolsters productivity.

Leave Management Recommendations

There are many solutions for leave management on the market today. Of the many options available, we’ve narrowed our list down to the top five recommendations that we think that you should check out if you are interested in improving your vacation, sick, and leave management operations and installing new policies.

We recommend:

These solutions are designed to benefit companies of all shapes and sizes. This list should give you a good starting point when it comes to leave management solutions. You’ll have to dig into these options to see which might be the best fit for your company.

A Step in the Right Direction

Many companies could benefit from a revamp of their sick leave policy to be more employee-friendly. Even providing the option to work from home when you aren’t feeling well can do a lot toward reducing absences, boosting productivity, and creating a happy company culture and environment.