You hire employees to do a job. However, that doesn’t mean they’re capable of giving the job 100 percent every day of the week. Things happen, including illnesses, that will keep them from performing their duties.

It’s important to anticipate this and plan ahead. That way, you don’t find yourself in trouble because a key employee is home with the flu for a few days.

Here are a few tips that will make dealing with sick employees a little easier.

Make Sure Everyone Has an Adequate Amount of Sick Time

You may think you are doing your business a favor by limiting the amount of sick time employees can take, but you’re really doing the opposite. If employees don’t have sick time they can take, they will come into work when they don’t feel well. Not only will they provide sub-par work while they’re sick, but they can also get others in the office sick too.

It’s also important to be familiar with FMLA, especially in the age of COVID-19. Qualifications for this labor law have changed, covering more employees than ever before.

You can also consider a flexible work-at-home policy. That way, employees can take sick time to take care of a child or family member while still getting a little work done at home.

Encourage Employees to Take It When They Need It

Making sure your employees have enough sick time is a great first step, but just because they have the time doesn’t mean they will take it. Many workplaces frown on taking time off and encourage employees to come in even if they don’t feel good. In other cases, an employee may fear what will happen if they take time off, so they come into work when they shouldn’t.

Make it clear that your employees are encouraged to take time off when they need it. Don’t question employees about the time they request off, unless absolutely necessary, and make it easy for them to request the time off. Create an online form employees can fill out, and consider allowing employees to text you instead of calling in the morning if they won’t be coming in.

Be Familiar With What You Can and Can’t Do as an Employer

It’s normal to worry about how illnesses are going to affect your bottom line, but that doesn’t mean you can deal with sick employees however you want. There are things you can and can’t do as an employer.

A few things you can’t do include asking employees to disclose any medical conditions, and you can’t require employees to get a flu shot. In most cases, you also can’t require employees to take their temperature, except in extreme circumstances, like the COVID-19 outbreak. It falls into the category of medical examinations, which is not allowed by employers.

Things you can do include:

  • Ask employees if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
  • Require an employee to go home if they are showing signs of the flu.
  • Encourage, but not require, employees to get the flu shot.
  • Require infection-control strategies like hand-washing and mask-wearing.

Feel Free to Ask for a Sick Note, If Needed

Another thing you can do is ask employees for a sick note. It’s generally not recommended if your employee only takes one day. If, however, they take multiple days off, you can ask them to provide a note as long as the information is needed for sick leave, workers’ compensation, wellness programs, or health insurance.

Make sure you have a consistent sick note policy, so no employee feels singled out. It’s also important to take a close look at the laws where you live to ensure your policies don’t break the law.

Set Policies in Place to Cover Sick Workers

There’s no worse feeling as an employee than worrying about work when sick. If they have responsibilities that they don’t share with other employees, they may feel like they have to come into work. Otherwise, it won’t get done.

There should always be someone on the team who has access to the same systems as others and is trained to complete the same tasks. Building in extra time to meet deadlines can help too. That way, if someone has to stay home, the work will still get done.

Don’t wake up dreading who is going to call in sick today. Make a plan and know the best ways to deal with sick employees so your company can keep on running, no matter who’s out for the day.