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Policies for taking leave in the workplace - how "normal" are these?


phil

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My employer has distributed some new HR policy manuals to staff. They contain some changes to various bits and bobs.

 

None of it strikes me as legally dodgy, but just a bit well, "presumption-of-skiving" really. So I'm wondering, are the type of policies listed below "normal" for an Australian workplace?

 

- unplanned Sick Leave on a Monday or Friday must be accompanied by a medical certificate.

This was previously only needed for Sick Leave pre/proceeding Annual Leave or Public Holidays, now it's any Monday or Friday.

- unplanned Sick Leave must be telephoned into the line manager by the employee (not a partner/relative) as soon as possible. The line manager will ask for an estimated return to work and any work items that may need re-allocating. An email must also be sent to all staff informing them you're sick. If it seems the estimated return to work date won't be met you need to telephone, in person, again.

 

- any unplanned Carer's Leave must have a medical certificate (or similar). Same rules about telephoning and email notification to line manager as for Sick Leave.

Basically, if I have to take Carer's Leave to look after my sick child, I need to get a medical certificate for him.

- Annual Leave applications for a period of 1 week or more must be submitted a minimum of 8 weeks in advance. The employer will endeavour to make a decision within 2 weeks. If it's a popular time for leave the decision may take longer. It's in no way first-come-first-served - purely discretionary.

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That sounds particularly strict to me....

 

Just had a look at ours, says you 'may' need a medical cert for sick/carers leave greater than 2 days, that it is the responsibility of the employee to directly contact their manager to report absence (doesn't say how you have to do this).

 

Does say that leave requests must be made 4 weeks in advance, but I know they don't really stick to this as people put leave in whenever they want.

 

That's about it really.

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Yeah, it's quite a small place. Soon to get smaller.

 

Compared to the UK (self-certify for up to 2 weeks) it seems a bit of a faff to be ill and have to visit someone who can issue a certificate (as a doctor'll not pre-date them) just for one day.

And the bit that grates is the having to telephone in - surely in this day and age an email is sufficient? Especially as, when asked, management couldn't specify why a phone call was necessary.

 

Still, nearly the weekend!

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I work in the public sector and we are having to remind staff about the process of calling in sick. You have to speak to your line manager and indicate how long you are going to be off for. We ask staff to forward plan leave and each year there is an Expression of interest for leave periods over the following 12 months Jan - Jan. Leave is granted taking into account previous leave e.g. if someone has every Easter/xmas off. and holidays should not be booked until leave has been granted. It's not unusual to be asked for sick certs if there has been a high proportion of absence within the work force.

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As long as i can remember in south africa you have always needed a medical certificate for any sick days on a monday or friday. I think it only appears harsh compared to the uk.

 

We were only able to self certify for five working days in the uk, after that you needed a sick note.

 

personally i dont think an email should be sufficient to advise you are sick, whats the issue calling up, unless you are so ill you cant speak. Otherwise whats to stop people emailing all the time?

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  • 1 month later...

Is it practical to obtain a sick note for one day? I can't get in to see a doctor the same day and as you say they won't back date.

 

Also a sick note where we live (which is not Australia) is issued to claim a benefit payable to someone who makes social security contributions; a child cannot claim. So it wouldn't be possible to obtain a sick note for a child. Not sure if this is the case in Australia.

 

We always have to phone work if sick as generally if an employee has to phone themselves it's believed the sickness is more likely to be genuine. However, in practice most of us end up leaving a message on a voice mail as the managers are in meetings from dawn until dusk. A policy stating you also have to email would be helpful as if the manager doesn't pick up their voice mail other members of the department wouldn't know where you are or whether you'll be in. I used to leave a voice mail for my manager and then phone my secretary so she could cancel all my appointments and let relevant staff know. I also phoned all of my team to check they were able to cover any important issues and to contact me if they needed.

 

I suppose it depends on what you do and the policy should leave managers some discretion as to what procedure is most relevant for their team. As Ali has said, if you work in health or a school the department might need to buy in cover at short notice and at a high cost so I don't think a policy such as phoning in is unreasonable.

 

The annual leave policy of 8 weeks notice seems a little unreasonable. What happens if someone has a sick relative and needs to take leave at short notice? Perhaps if staff can present some real examples of when annual leave may be requested at short notice HR would consider amending the policy to allow managerial discretion in such circumstances.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Lou8670
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Is it practical to obtain a sick note for one day? I can't get in to see a doctor the same day and as you say they won't back date.

 

Not sure you need to "see" a doctor in Perth to get a sick note? Can you not get them at the reception desk of a medical practice or centre? Also I thought you could also get them at a pharmacy which are on every street corner here. Obviously in some circumstances that there could be exmples in WA where getting to a medical practice and/or pharmacy on the same day is difficult due to location but general for city folk probably that is not an issue.

 

If there is a high volume of sick days in an organisation can anyone blame an employer for trying to tighten things up? Lost days through one off "sickies" is a disease in itself :wink: Phoning is a good practice I reckon especially if the call is made on a Friday morning and the employer hears "bing bong" in the background because then they will know that the employee is standing in the departure lounge at Perth airport waiting for their long weekend flight to the footie in Melbourne :wink:

Edited by StraighttothePoint
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I do think most people see those extra 10 days a year as an entitlement and they make sure they get used. I have never 'pulled a sickie' which makes me rather unusual I think, I get left with a terrible guilt feeling and the thought of phoning my boss to tell her puts me off even more. Even the woman in charge of HR said she 'makes sure she uses' all her sick days!

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  • 1 month later...

We are in the uk and my partner works for NHS. I have had to phone her manager for her being sick a couple of times due to her having laryngitis and no voice. They still insist on talking to her and then whinge when they can't hear her. Makes me laugh. The policy where I work with phoning in says you have to speak to section leader and if not there keep ringing until you speak to them. Also we can only self certify for 1 week but I always get a sick note. Only thing that really winds me up is the receptionist at doctors who is not medically trained asking questions she has no right to and making decisions to change appointments without authority. I mean if I ring up to see the doctor I'm not going into my problems with her because she thinks I could see a nurse then get in there to be told I need to see a doctor and have to get appointment for another day.

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