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Refusing holiday requests

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If you refuse a holiday request and the employee phones in sick it’s understandable that you jump to the conclusion that your employee is pulling a “sickie”, the situation does need to be investigated, even if you currently think all the signs point towards the obvious.

There is nothing you can really do whilst the employee is off ill apart from keeping in touch with them and following your normal processes. This means it’s important to follow a structured return to work plan when they are back in the office. A return to work meeting is important here because you can use the opportunity to ask the employee about their illness, the symptoms and if they are feeling better in order to assess whether the illness was genuine. This should also be the time where you collect documentation, either a self-certification form or fit note, to count as evidence of the absence and the reason for the absence.

Employees are less likely to false sickness if they know they have to explain themselves when they come back to work.

If you have reasonable grounds to believe that the illness was false, for example, by having a witness who has informed you of their plan, their reasons don’t match up or evidence gathered by reasonable means such as photos posted on social media, then your absence policy might allow you to treat the absence as unauthorised and then take disciplinary action against the employee.

Importantly, reasonable action should be taken against the matter to ensure that other employees don’t do the same thing and you should continue to measure levels of sickness absence. Additionally, if the business doesn’t have an absence policy then now might be the right time to introduce one so that action can be taken the next time.

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