A business leader recently called seeking advice about a problem employee. The employee had taken an extensive amount of time off from the company, time that far exceeded the vacation or sick policy. Performance had slipped and feedback was given but was only documented in emails and personal notes versus a corrective action notice as outlined in the employee handbook. The situation had not gotten out of hand and something needed to happen. What action should the company take?
This is a tough situation, many companies might ask since we are an at-will employer can’t we just make a move and terminate employment. Technically yes… but that doesn’t protect the company from further action. The issue is that the behavior was allowed to continue and the employee had not received any formal documentation for the excessive time away. I recommended the business leaders detail all of the time taken and include a copy of the signed handbook that outlined time allowed to be taken. This excessive time would constitute a serious warning and further time away would result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. The old saying – give it a week and wait was true. The person received the warning, signed it and then took more time off and was released from the company.
Always inspect what you expect. If you provide time away from work ensure you are tracking and that employees not abusing the privilege. Define your policy regarding unpaid time away from work; before you know it an employee can take significant time and all others are watching.
If you have a policy detailing progressive discipline and corrective action… give it when warranted. Use the company form and don’t rely on memos or emails to “soften the blow”. Get your point across and quickly impact potential morale and productivity issues.
About Glenna Hecht of Humanistic Consulting
Humanistic Consulting provides outsourced human resource support and training and development to our clients on an as needed basis. This support provides senior level professionals to provide HR Strategy, State and Federal Legal Compliance, Handbook and Policy & Procedure Development, ,Organization Development, Recruiting, Employee Relations, Compensation & Benefit Strategy and Leadership & Compliance Training. Our clients include organizations in the hospitality, technology, manufacturing, service. medical, supply, distribution and franchise industries, as well as, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
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