Sick = Vacation

I have an employee who has exhausted their sick leave (all employees get 6 days of sick leave a year and they are able to carry over any unused balances from year to year). This employee however never has any sick or even vacation time to carry over. My company also allows our employeees to take vacation time in advance even though they do not have that granted 2 weeks accrued. There is not a policy that states that, it is just how it has always been.

Well my problem is that this employee is one of two employees in their department and they have been using vacation time as sick time becasue they do not have any more sick time left and it is only June. Anyway, they call in and state that they can not cmoe into work because they are sick or their children are sick and must take off. They are using vacation days to account for these days off. We state in our policy that we will accomadate the employee with odd vacation day requests, but we would like vacation to be scheduled and in week increments. We have been accomadating this employee, but their manager has had enough because their absenses are putting a burden on the department.

The manager would like to meet with the employee and would like HR(me) present. We do not have a discipline procedure, its at management's descreation. This employee has been warned of this absenteeism twice before. How do we address this employee and also address the fact that they are entitled to the rest of their yearly granted vacation, and the unforeable illness of them or their children? Any information is greatly appreciated, I am between a rock and a hard place.


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  • The first thing I would do is get a policy written to address the earning and using of sick and vacation time and stop letting people take vacation time that they have not yet earned.

    Also, is this person eligible for FMLA and could some of these absences qulaify as FMLA?

    Good luck.
  • Not eligiable for FMLA, I had planned on addressing the issue of creating a policy that addresses the use of PTO before it is accrued by employees. Thanks
  • How much time does this employee have left. It sounds as if most of the vacation time is already used. I would definitely put together a vacation/sick policy. Issue it in October to be effective Januray 1, 2009. This way you have given everyone plenty of notice.
  • Thats the thing the employee still has about 50 hours of vacation time to use by Dec 31st. I just want to make it clear to the employee that they are putting a burden on the department when they call off even if they are able to use their vacation time. We ask that vacation is scheduled, but when they have to use it because they have no more sick time....Frustrating!!
  • I have found it very difficult to separate sick time from vacation time and vice versa. We used to have sick days and vacation days but found that people were using sick days for their vacation time and vacation days when they were sick. We finally just lumped everything together to make it easier.

    Even though you say they shouldn't use vacation for sick time or sick for vacation time, how can you really prevent it unless you require documentation if they state they are sick? Too much of an administrative nightmare for me.
  • We have seen a pattern show up that the employee seems to be calling sick on Mondays and Fridays or Mondays and Tuesdays. Imagine that. Anyway as a company are we allowed to request doctor's notes to prove that they went to a doctor?
  • We had an employee who seemed to miss a lot of Fridays and even more Mondays. Her manager got the numbers and figured out that 60% of the absences were on Monday or Friday (should have been 40%). The manager was surprised it wasn't more, so it was a good learning experience for her. Still, the manager brought the numbers to the employee's attention at review time. Sometimes just bringing something to the attention of the employee is enough. They may not be aware of how often they do something, or more importantly, they may not be aware that someone else notices.

    To be on the safe side, we instituted a point system for unscheduled absences. The employee soon left. I would say it was a win-win stiuation, but we were left with the point system to administer. However, it was only a burden with the employee's 1st replacement. It hasn't had to be used since.

    Good luck!

  • In the case of the earn it and burn it's and patterns of abuse, we have informed ee's that if they call off sick with no sick time, they will be required to present a dr.'s note.
  • Our vacation and sick tiime is kept separate. In order to be able to use vacation time, you need to get approval in advance. If you have used up all of your sick/personal time, your absences are counted against the attendance system and eventually the discipline policies,
  • Thank you all for your advice and comments. I now have some guidance for ideas to take to management for consideration.
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