Tracking attendance: Top reasons employees call in sick

An estimated 33% of employees have played hooky from the office at least once this year by calling in sick when they were well, according to’s annual survey on absenteeism.

The majority of employers surveyed said they generally don’t question the reason for an employee’s absence. However, 31% have checked up on an employee who called in sick and 18% have gone as far as firing an employee for missing work without a legitimate excuse.

From the survey of more than 6.800 workers and 3,300 employers, found the most common reasons for calling in sick, including:

  • 9% wanted to miss a meeting, buy some time to work on an overdue project or avoid the wrath of a boss or coworker
  • 30% needed to relax and recharge
  • 27% went to a doctor’s appointment
  • 22% needed to catch up on sleep
  • 14% wanted to run personal errands
  • 34% simply didn’t feel like going to work that day

Of the 31% of employers who checked up on an employee who called in sick:

  • 71% required the employee to show a doctor’s note
  • 56% called the employee at home
  • 18% had another worker call the employee
  • 17% drove by the employee’s home

"It’s in your best interest to be up-front with your employer and chances are you’ll get the time you need," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at "More companies today are moving toward a Paid Time Off system, giving employees more flexibility in how they categorize time away from the office. Employers are also expanding the definition of the sick day with 65 percent stating that they allow their team members to use sick days for mental health days."

Whether you require employees to have a legitimate excuse or not, tracking employee attendance can be one of the most burdensome and paperwork-filled tasks managers must deal with.

If you’re looking for a way to eliminate attendance paperwork and move to an electronic attendance tracking platform, we have a free webinar coming up that could offer a solution.

In our free, 30-minute “lunch and learn” presentation you’ll learn how unscheduled absenteeism affects your bottom line, the benefits of electronic recordkeeping and how software can help you get rid of employe attendance paperwork forever.

Software Basics: Track Attendance Electronically Like a Pro is sponsored by Gradience and created specifically for workplace software beginners interested in reducing unwanted paperwork and moving to a “greener” electronic solution.

Sign up today for Software Basics: Track Attendance Electronically Like a Pro on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 1 p.m., ET.

View upcoming webinars at

Statistics show workplace injury and illness down

The rate of workplace injuries and illness in private industry in 2007 declined for the sixth consecutive year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nonfatal workplace injuries and illness in the private industry have declined 4.5 percent over the past year.

Over the past six years workplace injuries and illnesses have declined 21 percent. The shrinking statistic shows how effective targeted enforcement along with prevention methods, such as compliance assistance, have worked together to promote a culture focused on workplace safety, according to Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao in a press release.

"Today's injury and illness results demonstrate that OSHA's balanced approach to workplace safety encompassing education, training, information sharing, inspection, regulation and aggressive enforcement is achieving significant reductions in workplace injury and illness throughout the country.

This report shows that employees are now safer in the workplace than ever before. This success validates our efforts, and we are redoubling this commitment to make workplaces even safer," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr.

Key findings of the 2007 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illness:

  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate was highest among mid-size establishments (those employing between 50 and 249 workers) and lowest among small establishments (those employing fewer than 11 workers).
  • General medical and surgical hospitals (NAICS 6221) reported more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in 2007—more than 253,500 cases.
  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rates declined among 5 of the 19 private industry sectors—Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting; Mining; Construction; Manufacturing; and Health care and social assistance—in 2007 and remained statistically unchanged in the remaining 14 industry sectors.
  • Incidence rates and numbers of cases for injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2007 for several case types: total recordable cases; cases with days away from work, job transfer or restriction; cases with days away from work; and cases with job transfer or restriction.
Read the full study at

Employee voting rights: Time to review your policies

Now is the time for employers to review and update policies and procedures for giving employees time off to cast their ballots on November 4.

While there are no federal laws mandating businesses to give employees time off from work to vote, many states require it. By fully understanding the employee voting rights in your state, you will know the best way to handle the barrage of questions and requests coming your way in the next two weeks.

Most state voting laws require businesses to adhere to the following rules:

  • If voting polls are open for two or more hours before or after employees’ normal working hours, the employer is not required to give paid time off.
  • Employers have the right to ask for written request from employees for time off to vote.
  • Employers may designate a certain time when employees are permitted to take time off to vote.
  • Lunch periods may not be included as part of the time off designated for voting.
  • Employees may not be disciplined or retaliated against for taking time off to vote.

There is no rule prohibiting businesses from giving employees more flexibility or privileges that what the law mandates.

Since most state laws only refer to voting on Election Day, you may run into some confusion when employees ask for time off to vote early. The best practice would be to allow an employee to vote early in the same way you would allow them time off to vote on Election Day, according to John Phillips at The Word on Employment Law blog.

He gives two reasons for this best practice:

“Every state’s public policy is to encourage voting in elections. If you deny an employee’s request to take time off to vote (even if there’s a technical basis for doing this given the specific language in your state statute), you could violate your state’s public policy. And even if you don’t, you probably don’t want to become, particularly this year, the poster child for employers who make it difficult for their employees to vote. Voting is a hot button issue, and the media would likely give a lot of publicity to this kind of situation.”

Another good practice to consider following is to send a notice explaining your company’s voting day policy to employees through e-mail and post it for those employees without e-mail access at least a week before Election Day.

Be knowledgeable of the time off for voting laws in your state and make sure your organization’s policy matches up. Ensure all managers are following the policy consistently - if you’re flexible for one employee, extend the same flexibility to every employee.

Phillips has compiled a list of voting time off laws by state at The Word on Employment Law blog. For more information on the voting rules in your state, contact your state labor department.

Drug-Free Work Week: Top 5 ways to participate

The third annual Drug-Free Work Week kicked off this week (October 20-26, 2008), to educate employers, employees, and the general public about the importance of being drug-free as a part of improving workplace safety and health.

Workplaces across the country are affected daily by drug use. Over two-thirds of alcohol and drug abusers in the U.S. were employed either full or part time in 2007, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings.

The Department of Labor created a list of activities employers can do during Drug-Free Work Week to promote a safer, healthier workplace through substance abuse prevention and intervention.

Here are our picks for the top 5 ways to get involved in Drug-Free Work Week:

Implement a Drug-Free Workplace Program if you don’t already have one. The DOL’s Working Partners Web site provides free tools and information to help you get started.

Promote your existing Drug-Free Workplace Program. Distribute your company policy to employees with an attached message promoting a healthy and safe workplace. Also include information where employees can ask questions, either privately or at an open discussion.

Train supervisors and educate workers. Train supervisors on the company’s policy regarding alcohol and drug use, how to identify potential problems and how to offer employees assistance. Hold training sessions for employees with guest speakers on how drugs affect workplace safety and health.

Allow employees to volunteer in community drug-prevention efforts. Show your organization’s dedication to a drug-free workplace by granting employees time off to volunteer in drug-prevention activities in the community.

Hold a special event promoting safety and health. Organize a social event in the office, complete with healthy snacks and sweets, that reinforces the importance of staying healthy and drug free.

Whether you celebrate Drug-Free Work Week this week or at a time more suitable to your business’ schedule, the important thing to remember is to encourage and educate employees how to stay drug-free, safe and healthy.

Visit the DOL’s Working Partners for more Drug-Free Work Week activities and more ways to promote a drug-free workplace.

How is your organization celebrating Drug-Free Work Week?

Lacking anti-harassment policy, New Jersey employer liable

In a recent court decision, New Jersey employers may be held liable for negligence for an employee’s sexual harassment by a coworker if the business lacks effective anti-harassment policies, even if the employer was unaware of the situation.

The decision in Cerdeira v. Martindale-Hubbell is the first of it’s kind in New Jersey. The court’s ruling makes it fully clear that New Jersey employers can be liable for coworker sexual harassment in “the absence of an anti-harassment policy with effective preventative mechanisms.”

The state’s highest court advises employers wanting to avoid sexual harassment to put five elements in place:

  1. An anti-harassment policy
  2. A complaint structure that allows for formal and informal complaint procedures.
  3. Training that is offered to all members of the organization, but mandatory for supervisors and managers.
  4. Effective monitoring mechanisms, to determine whether the complaint structure is trusted.
  5. “An unequivocal commitment from the top that is not just in words but backed up by consistent practice.”

In 2007 there were 12,510 reported cases of sexual harassment resulting in almost $50 million in monetary benefits for charging parties (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation), according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace,” according to the EEOC.

Visit G.Neil’s HR Library for more information on how to handle workplace diversity, discrimination and harassment.

Retail giant sued for disability discrimination

Dillard’s, the nationwide department store chain, is facing a class action lawsuit for unlawfully requiring employees to disclose confidential medical information in order to qualify for excused sick leave or face disciplinary action including termination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed charges under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Dillard’s claiming their corporate policy is an unlawful disability-related inquiry under the ADA and not a justified business necessity.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC cites one instance where a sales associate was unable to attend work for a few days because of her medical illness. After submitting a doctor’s note justifying sick leave, Dillard’s asked her to reveal the specific nature of her illness for the absence to be deemed excused under company policy.

The sales associate refused to reveal the nature of her medical illness and informed Dillard’s that their requirements unlawfully invaded her right to privacy. Dillard’s considered the absences unexcused and fired the sales associate for refusing to disclose the requested medical information.

From an EEOC press release:

“This case has national implications and illustrates one of the reasons why the ADA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to disability-related inquiries not justified by business necessity,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park of the agency’s Los Angeles District. “The ADA’s prohibition of disability-related inquiries was enacted to protect employees from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of a perceived or actual medical illness.”

San Diego Local Acting Director Raul Green said, “Employers need to be aware that the EEOC will vigorously enforce the ADA to ensure that employees are free to exercise their rights. Employees should not have to worry that this very sensitive, private and potentially harmful information will be used by the employer against them to unfairly exclude them from jobs that they could otherwise perform.”


Improve teams, invest in talent with corporate training in a recession

Businesses are coping with the economic downturn in a number of ways from slashing budgets to downsizing. It is more important than ever to get the best return on investment in every aspect of your business.

Industry experts like George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, advise companies to deal with the economic recession by investing in existing talent.

At a recent dinner Colony hosted for top CIOs, discussion on politics and the economy led to a list of recession strategies companies can use to successfully ride out an economic slowdown.

In a recap of the dinner on Colony’s blog, some of the best practices for a recession include:

  • Outsourcing is not a silver bullet. Use the recession to build internal skills.
  • Use a slowdown to improve the team -- look to bring in great people who have been laid off elsewhere.
  • Cut training and development last. That resource is critical to success in the post-recession period.

Instead of limiting the development of your team by cutting training programs, learn how to stretch your training dollar in a free webinar from Training Time - Squeezing the Most Out of Your Training Budget: Corporate Training in a Recession.

Training and development should remain a priority during tough times because:

  • Trained workers perform more efficiently with less errors and delays
  • Training boosts employee loyalty by encouraging career development
  • Employees taking on extra work quickly learn how to get up to speed with the right training
  • Training improves employee morale and confidence
  • Your best asset in business is a well-trained employee

Experienced training professionals will share tips and ideas to find better, more cost-effective training opportunities including the pros and cons of in-house versus outside training, the benefits of group versus individualized training, virtual training and tapping into expert talent within your company.

Good training doesn’t have to be expensive. Join us on Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 1 p.m. EST for the free webinar - Squeezing the Most Out of Your Training Budget: Corporate Training in a Recession. Space is limited, reserve your seat now.

President signs mental health parity into law

A new law included in the economic bailout bill President Bush signed on Friday, will ensure more than one-third of Americans better insurance coverage for mental health treatments.

The mental health care benefits parity legislation will require health care plans to provide equal coverage of mental and physical illness. In the past, insurers were able to set higher co-payments and deductibles and harsh limits on treatment for mental illness and addiction disorders.

According to Workforce Management:

For example, plans no longer will be allowed to limit the number of annual outpatient visits for treatment of mental disorders while not imposing a comparable limit on the number of outpatient visits for other medical problems.

While the plan changes would be extensive, the cost impact is expected to be modest. The Congressional Budget Office last year estimated that enactment of a similar bill would boost health insurance premiums by an average of about 0.2 percent a year.

A result of 12 years of advocacy, the new law is described as “a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness,” according to The New York Times.

The law will be effective for most health care plans on January 1, 2010. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees are exempt.

Related post:

Mental Health Parity Bill passes House, on to negotiations

San Francisco court upholds universal health care plan

Earlier this week, federal judges ruled to uphold a health care ordinance giving San Francisco the right to make employers help pay part of the cost of the city’s universal health care plan.

“City officials and labor unions said the ruling establishes San Francisco as a model for state and local health coverage in the absence of a nationwide universal health plan,” according to the SFGate.

The city’s plan, called Healthy San Francisco, is the first of its kind in the nation and “could set the stage for a test of the supremacy of a longstanding federal labor law.”

Healthy San Francisco will help the city provide care for an estimated 73,000 uninsured residents, about 30,000 residents have already signed up.

Under the plan, companies with more than 20 employees that do not offer insurance to their workers must contribute $1.17 to $1.76 per employee per hour for health care.

Employers may choose to pay the money in a number of ways, including health care savings accounts, employer-provided insurance, employee reimbursement or contributing directly to Healthy San Francisco.

From The New York Times:

Mayor Gavin Newsom, a former restaurateur, said that his administration recognized that some extra expense was falling on businesses but that he was proud the city was a trailblazer.

“By thinking outside the box,” he said, “every city and state in this country can provide health care if they are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom.”

Some of San Francisco’s well-known restaurants have added small fees to bills, often with a note explaining that the charge goes to pay for health care.

Mr. Scherotter, who runs an Italian restaurant, adds such a fee. He said the law had added to his costs and his administrative workload. “It’s a lot of tedious arithmetic,” he said.


Labels :

Copyright (c) 2010. Blogger templates by Bloggermint