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Three Absenteeism excuses you can penalise your employees for

by , 28 February 2014
You've probably heard absenteeism excuses so many times and you're so over it... but beware! If you turn a blind eye to absenteeism your business will lose money and you won't be able to build your employee's commitment.

Do you know what to do when you hear these excuses?

Excuse#1: 'I went to the clinic, but they were too busy to give me a sick note. I wasn't feeling well and I didn't want to wait for nurse to write a note.'

Excuse#2: 'I ran out of airtime and I couldn't buy any because I didn't have money.'

Excuse#3: 'I had to attend my aunt's cousin's daughter's wedding ceremony in Rustenburg. I only found out about it at the last minute.'

If you turn a blind eye to absenteeism your business will lose money and you won't be able to build your employee's commitment. Your employee's will think you don't give a hoot about complying with your absenteeism rules.

Do you know what absenteeism actually costs you?

Here's how to calculate how much absenteeism costs your company:


Sarah earns R10 000 per month. She's absent from the workplace for a total of seven working days this year.

Assume that Sarah's productivity is equal to her earnings, and her replacement, Sally, is not as efficient as she is (as it is not her every day job), so Sally only works at a 75% productivity rate.

The estimated cost for Sarah's absenteeism can be calculated as follows:

7 days absent             X  R10 000 = R3 230.27
21.67 average working days per month


Salary cost = R3 230.27 (sick leave)
Replacement staff cost = R3 230.27 (replacement staff salary)
Productivity loss = R807.57 (25% loss of productivity)

Actual loss = R7 268.11

It's clear from this example that the costs are much higher than just the cost of Sarah's salary. And you can't put a price on the decline in morale and increase in resentment amongst the staff that have to cover for her.

Now just imagine if 100 employees are absent during the year. It could cost you an additional R726 811!

Don't accept excuses if your employee can't give you supporting evidence to prove their absence from work.

Advice from the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management

You don't need to accept the above 3 excuses without proof because:

For excuse #1: Most clinics are happy to issue sick notes. Don't accept this as an excuse, particularly if the employee's job depends on it.

For excuse #2: If the employee claims he genuinely didn't have money, he could've sent you a 'please call me'.

For excuse #3: Most cultural ceremonies are planned in advance and the employee must apply for annual or unpaid leave in advance.

No more excuses! You have the right to ask for proof!

Absenteeism is just one of the many HR headaches the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management  can help alleviate.

Absenteeism is most certainly not the only problem you deal with on a daily basis. You have to hold disciplinary hearings, issue warnings to employees who haven't given valid proof to support them being absent from work), manage performance, deal with countless leave issues, and handle trade unions or bargaining councils, among other issues.

I have the solution!

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Especially now that the EE Act has changed. You can rest assured that you will be 100% up to date on the new changes.

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