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Problems with employees' absenteeism? Use these seven steps to legally dismiss them

by , 27 February 2013
Truant teachers were absent for close to 7.5 million days last year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told the media yesterday. That means every single teacher in South Africa was absent, on average, 19 days last year. That's a huge absenteeism problem. And it's one of the reasons why education is so poor in many of South Africa's schools. But absenteeism isn't just a problem in schools - it's a business issue too. Here are the steps you can take to legally dismiss a frequently absent employee for misconduct.

"We have the highest rate of absenteeism in SADC (the Southern African Development Community). We're at 19 days (average per teacher) a year. It's huge. An average of 10 percent nationally,' Motshekga told reporters at Parliament yesterday reports IOL.

When asked why South Africa's teaching force had taken so many sick days last year, Motshekga said the 19 days taken on average by public school teachers was a result of 'pure absenteeism' and, in many cases, it wasn't illness related.

Don't let employee absenteeism become a problem

Employee absenteeism is a big topic. While some of it is planned (meaning it relates to sick leave, surgery, maternity leave, etc.), often employee absenteeism can be the result of unplanned events like transport problems, personal issues and even duvet days. It's here where it can become a big company problem.

That's why as the employer, you have the right to the service you're paying your employee for. If you suspect your employee is abusing his sick leave you're entitled to conduct investigations, request proof and discipline him if you find he's been absent without an acceptable reason, explains The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service

Here's how to deal with an employee who is constantly off on sick leave, but doesn't seem to be really ill

'Most absence from work isn't as a result of chronic conditions. Many employees seem to believe that sick leave is something they must ensure they take, or lose it. They make sure they take at least 10 days 'sick leave' every year and ensure that they use up their 30 days every sick leave cycle,' writes Human Resources Manager Nichola Wainwright in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Here's what to do if you suspect your employee of sick leave abuse.

Step #1: Analyse leave patterns for abuse – see if there's a pattern like always taking sick leave after pay day or after a long weekend.

Step #2: Take immediate action if your employee has taken seven or more days of random absence within a year. Call a counselling meeting with him to discuss his absence. At this meeting, discuss corrective action for his behaviour.

Step #3: Monitor the employee to see if your corrective action has been successful.

Step #4: Institute disciplinary action. If your employee hasn't taken the corrective steps to heart, takes sick leave without being able to give acceptable proof of illness or hasn't followed the correct procedure to contact you if he's off sick, call a meeting and issue a verbal warning.

Step #5: Impose progressive discipline. If he infringes again, give him a written warning.

Step #6: If your employee's absenteeism still doesn't improve and he commits another offence, hold a formal disciplinary hearing.

Step #7: If the employee still doesn't comply, the next step is dismissal.

Don't let employee absenteeism put your company at risk for lost productivity and lost revenue. If you suspect an employee of abusing sick leave, implement these steps today.

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