Should texting in sick be banned?

by Chloe Taylor07 Nov 2014
More employees are ditching old-fashioned phone calls to the boss and are using text messages or emails to call in sick instead.

But Australian workplaces, backed by the workplace watchdog, have increasingly cracked down the technology-based sickies unless workers are legitimately too sick to call, a leading recruitment agency told The Herald Sun.

The FWC has warned workers that if they are caught on social media after they have called into work sick, they could face disciplinary action.

Marketing and advertising company Brand Easy Australia director Andrew Fabien told Daily Mail Australia that he would prefer his employees to make a phone call when they're sick.

“The majority of my staff are aged between 18 and 30 and most of the younger ones definitely prefer contacting us via text or email rather than a phone call,” Fabien said. “I don't mind if they text the night before but if they're going to text me the morning before their shift, it'll definitely get under my skin because it doesn't give me enough time to prepare work and organise someone else to cover their shift. When an employee texts me at the last minute, to me, I personally think they just couldn't be bothered going to work that day or just some lazy excuse to get out of it.”

He added that if he did see an increase in text or email sickies, he would consider enforcing a rule banning the practice.

The Herald Sun reported that 15,000 unfair dismissal cases annually use social media posts against employees to prove that they had been going about their day as normal after calling in sick.

“If they publicise the fact that they have taken an illegitimate sick day, it's more likely than not that there will be consequences,” said Fair Work Commissioner Leigh Johns. “It could be a valid reason for termination, depending on the circumstances of the case, such as being warned in the past.” 

COMMENTS

  • by Luc 7/11/2014 12:05:14 PM

    Get a policy in place setting out sick leave notification guidelines. Attendance improves dramatically where employees have to make a phone call.

    Personally I find the practice of employees texting sickies to be offensive. Employers stand up and don't tolerate it!!

  • by Sharon 7/11/2014 12:39:28 PM

    I find the approach very old fashioned.

    I would like to see the research that says attendance improves if people have to make a phone call.

    What is the difference between a txt and phone call in terms of planning staffing replacement or reallocating tasks as noted in the article? That is plain nonsense.

    Employees using social media to advertise they have taken an illegitimate sickie says quite a bit about the employee, and sure - action should follow that. But if a person is legitimately sick and then goes onto social media while they are resting up in bed... then I see no issue.

    Previously people could 'role play' having a cold over the phone, now they can txt whatever excuse - nothing has changed, just the means. In fact, technology now makes it easier to catch the taker of 'a sickie' if they are silly enough to post whatever else it is they are doing on their illegitimate day off (eg selfie at the beach/fishing etc).

    We need to take a broader view, and instead of assuming employees are dodging work, have a culture that is open, honest and builds employee loyalty - then this sort of this would rarely happen.

  • by John 7/11/2014 12:41:12 PM

    I agree with Luc - there should be a policy in place for employees to follow when communicating sick leave. This policy should also be reflected by management, who should lead by example.

    One way to reduce the number of employee sick days is to improve the environment they are working in so people enjoy being at work and empower individuals to feel like they play an important role in the company.

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