I have been writing these articles for a few years now and, if I look back, it is seldom that I have readers reach out and ask for me to write about a particular topic. Interestingly this week I had two requests to write about the same topic. So, before I give you some thoughts on the proposed doubling of sick leave entitlements, let me first address the change in alert levels on Monday.
Excellent, good move, what took you so long??
Right, with that out of the way, (and I will let you know that I am not confident that we will be in level 1 for a long time due to the still occurring emergence of the virus outside managed isolation) let's onward to sick leave.
On the one hand, sick leave is an essential component of business. People get sick, it happens, and it is completely appropriate that employees have access to paid time off to get well.
During my time as a team leader and/or an employer I have been the guy who has encouraged unwell people to return home rather than stay at work and infect others.
A single virus could cause the loss of several staff attendance and productivity would end up going through the floor, deadlines would be missed and the consequences for business could be material.
In addition, with the ability to work from home and technology advancing all the time, if an employee feels the need to work or doesn't want to 'let the side down' they can work remotely and continue to be productive.
Where this falls down is that sick leave is a subsidy that is built on trust – and from time to time this can be stretched to the limits.
The 'mental health day' would be better named as the 'Skivers day' as mental health is real and such absenteeism behaviour degrades what is a very important issue.
Be that as it may, I have experienced staff who got on the turps on Saturday night and not turned up Monday – which also could have the impact of casting doubt on people with very real maladies.
The doctor's certificate is a control mechanism but, often, the cost of the doctor's visit has staff either not doing it or turning up at work unwell.
Of course, serious conditions are always dealt with on a case by case basis and, in my experience, the businesses I have been with are both caring and accommodating.
Some employees never take the sick leave available (possibly when they should) and others take sick leave to extents which stretch the cause of credibility.
So, as you can probably tell, I am in two minds about the recent proposed policy from the Government to double sick leave entitlements.
What sways me into the 'no' camp is probably the timing of this and, if I am cynical, a sense that businesses are indirectly bankrolling an election campaign (see also additional public holidays – on that, I'm very in favour of Matariki but perhaps it would be better to dispense with the regional anniversaries rather than an additional cost to business).
In these 'virus affected' times I do not feel that adding costs to businesses is going to assist in the recovery.
In deep recessions cash is not only king – it is an all-powerful universal deity. And this is going to come straight out of the bottom line.
It might be argued that 'business can afford this' but I will contend that only applies to your major corporates and public services – small businesses (already struggling) may see this as a bridge too far.
And when the recovery is predicted to be long and arduous, you need a healthy and thriving SME sector – not a sick one.