Snow Day or Sick Day?

Another Sick Day….Or is it a Another Snow Day?

Quite unexpectedly for many parents, today is a snow day for children throughout Nova Scotia.   Unfortunately, when schools unexpectedly close because of weather, working parents with younger children have to scramble to find alternative child care arrangements.  Many of these parents may end up missing work  simply because they can’t find a last minute sitter  to look after their children.

On school closure days, some parents will take a paid vacation day to cover-off the unplanned absence, while some will be forced to take an unpaid day off work.  Others still, may instead choose to take a paid sick day to look after their children.  While some parents will be upfront about their predicament and the use of a paid sick day to cover-off a snow day others will call-in complaining of sudden sore throats, flu-like symptoms, or a host of other maladies.  It is HR pros belief that when employees feel compelled to fabricate stories to look after their children it is an indication that employee policies are not meeting the needs of the employees or the company.

Employees who must take a sick day for reasons other than sickness are in effect lying about their availability.  Employers who accept the sickness reason, knowing full well it is a “white lie”, are tacitly condoning the deception.  Further, it casts doubts on those employees who are genuinely sick.  The fact is that in this world of competing interests (child care, storm days, doctors appointments, specialist appointments, elder care issues, etc) it might simply be best to not label paid days off as “Sick Days”, and force the lie, but rather to consider instead calling these days Paid Personal Days Off or Paid Familial Days Off.   

If your employees can’t make it to work for a personal reason, you don’t wantv a policy to compel them to lie about it.   Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy employment relationship.  Promote honesty by implementing employee policies that consider the needs of employees AND the goals of the business.

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