What happens if a worker has used all of their PEL days and they call in sick? Or they just refuse to show up to work on time, regularly?
Monitoring and dealing with employee attendance at work is very confusing and complicated. With the addition of new Personal Emergency Leave days, employers are no longer permitted to ask for doctor’s notes for “sick days” taken under the PEL provision.
Employers have the right to expect honesty and integrity from Employees. If an employee’s use of sick time or absenteeism is determined to be dishonest, the Supreme Court has ruled that the dishonesty “violates an essential condition of the employment contract, breaches the faith inherent in the working relationship, or is fundamentally or directly inconsistent with the employee’s obligations to his or her employer” (McKinley vs BC Tel, 2001).
Here are some common terms you need to know:
“Culpable Absenteeism” applies to an employee who is guilty of habitual neglect of duty, defined as persistent lateness or leaving early without permission or abuse of leave provisions. If your employee fails to provide proper documentation after repeated warnings, you may have “just cause” to terminate their employment.
“Innocent Absenteeism” occurs when an employee is not able to attending work on a regular and productive basis due to circumstances beyond their control (illness or other circumstance). This situation must be a long-term ongoing issue, with no hope of positive resolution for either side, if the employer wishes to terminate. If the cause for absenteeism is an illness or disability as defined under the Human Rights Code, Employers may wish to seek legal advice.
Employees suffering from an illness or injury are required to provide “evidence that is reasonable in the circumstance” to prove their entitlement to accommodation or absence. Vague notes stating “Joe is unable to work for four weeks” with no other supporting documentation are not enough.
In all cases of employee absenteeism, please remember this rule: “DOCUMENTATION IS YOUR FRIEND”. Make notes of the dates/times of absence, any “patterns” you see developing, and especially document any discussion(s) you have with the employee regarding this behaviour.
An Attendance Management Policy will clearly outline the steps to be taken when dealing with both types of absenteeism, and the disciplinary process that would be followed.