After a long year, and as we prepare for another year of unprecedented change managing the classic “sickie” has become fraught with additional tension. So the question becomes then: what can you do to manage a sickie?  This weeks HR Highlight will explore the steps to managing the sickie.

Set clear expectations

Staff are entitled to be off work when sick, in fact, if 2020 taught us anything it is that it is necessary for the business to INSIST that unwell staff stay home, and genuine cases of illness can occur on a weekend, or on a day before or after a public holiday so management should tread carfully.

It is important to set clear expectations.  The business needs to clearly articulate that while it recognises the right for staff to be off when unwell, it will not tolerate the planned “sickie”.  It is often helpful in this regard to highlight the company policy is in regards to unplanned or sick leave that occurs adjacent to a weekend, adjacent to a public holiday prior to the start of a ‘long weekend’ period.

Businesses should have clear and well communicated policies on the requirement to present a valid doctors certificate or a statutory declaration in these situations.

Discuss the realities

Even with clear and enforced policies around unplanned leave, adjacent to a weekend or a public holiday, it may become necessary for a business to discuss the actual activities of an employee on the day of their absence.

This is a delicate situation fraught with the opportunity for conflict and confusion. Any such discussion and management must be undertaken carefully and with respectful due process.

Sick at the cricket?

The often repeated tale of the employee that calls in sick, acquires and presents a doctors certificate and then is spotted on the television cricket coverage or uses a public Facebook account to ‘check in’ at the cricket, is not apocrypha.

It is situation that many businesses need to face. As was seen in a case recently, when the commission supported the decision by the employer to terminate on the basis of a fundamental breach of trust in the employment relationship, after an employee produced a doctors certificate but instead was found to have travelled interstate for a holiday. This dismissal was made and upheld under the small business code of conduct at Fair Work Australia. This then does not as easily apply to all businesses but does serve to highlight an important point, namely that, while sick leave is an entitlement that is sacrosanct, there is a legitimate interest in the actual conduct of employees while they are on sick leave.

Here to help

ACAPMA members are reminded that they can access the advice support resources and representation of the ACAPMA Employment Professionals on this issue, or indeed any other employment issue, via

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by contacting the ACAPMA Employment Professionals via  its free for members. Click here to apply for ACAPMA Membership.