11th of January, 2024
Improving Sick Leave Policies: Elevating Employee Benefits Using New Legislation
With the latest update to the Sick Leave Act 2022 (Click here to read), Employees are now entitled to 5 days paid sick leave as of January 2024. This is the first in a chain of upcoming sick leave entitlements for employees for paid time off which will cap at x10 days by 2026.
If your company has yet to establish a sick leave policy, simply adhering to the current legislation might appear cost effective but it’s also a missed opportunity to enhance your company offerings. Creating a robust sick leave policy isn’t just about adhering to legal standards; it’s about nurturing a workplace culture that values employee well-being and builds loyalty. As the landscape of employee rights and expectations shifts, candidates are much more derisive when they choose an employer to work with.
Here are x7 best practices that can transform your sick leave policy into a cornerstone of employee support and satisfaction:
1. Elevate Beyond The Norm
To transcend the ordinary, consider an elevated sick leave policy that truly meets the needs of your workforce. Evaluating your employees’ historical sick leave patterns can be insightful. Often, employees underutilise allocated sick leave due to existing policies that create hurdles. Some policies necessitate managers sending employees home, leading to staff reporting for duty while unwell, potentially spreading illness.
Adapting your policy to align with legislative updates is a step forward. However, simplifying the process for employees to access sick leave demonstrates goodwill towards your team. Creating a policy that allows employees to utilise sick leave without cumbersome procedures fosters a stronger sense of security and support within the workplace. This approach encourages responsible sick leave usage, reducing the risk of contagion and promoting a healthier, more productive workforce.
2. Leveraging Software and Automation
Businesses now have a range of software solutions at their disposal to automate and streamline leave management processes effectively. This technological integration ensures equitable treatment for all employees, eliminating any feelings of unease or scepticism towards favouritism or discrepancies in leave allocation. Among these options are:
- Connecteam: This software offers comprehensive leave management features from a mobile device. It provides a quick overview of the people that have requested time off or are currently off work.
- Deel: This software integrates with Slack to manage time off.
- Replicon: This software is ideal for managing global time off policies and compliance.
- RosterElf: This software allows you to request, approve, and track staff time-off with ease. It integrates with Xero to provide live leave balances, and it also helps you manage sick leave and absenteeism.
3. Encourage Use
By encouraging employees to use their sick leave without guilt and emphasising that sick leave is meant for recovery, preventing the spread of illness, and maintaining a healthy workforce, reducing the overall sick leave burden.
4. Flexibility For Employee Well-Being
Allow remote work for mildly ill employees capable of performing tasks from home. Embracing flexibility reflects the changing landscape and acknowledges the importance of health and well-being in today’s work environment.
5. Clarity and Transparency
Craft a clear, detailed, and fair sick leave policy. Specify reporting procedures, paid leave caps, and various types of leaves (e.g., family medical leave) to ensure employees understand their entitlements and responsibilities.
6. Empathy in Policy Writing
Strike a balance between legalities and empathy. Avoid overly strict policies that might hinder employee engagement. Recognise that most employees have valid reasons for taking sick leave and offer accommodations when necessary.
7. Flexible Sick Day Structure
Consider offering half sick days to provide more flexibility. This allows employees to address minor illnesses without exhausting a full sick day and maintains productivity while supporting employee health.
By integrating these best practices into your sick leave policy, you elevate it beyond compliance with legal standards. Utilise the recent legislative changes as a catalyst to enhance your company’s employee benefits package, fostering a workplace culture that values and prioritises employee health and well-being.
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