Employees calling in sick because the kids are?

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Employee

“Hi. I am so sorry to do this, but my child is sick, and I need to take the day off to take care of him.” Sound familiar?

It’s 6:30 a.m. and you have several voice messages from an employee asking for the day off due to their child being sick.

Great!  I am sure I have your attention now.  Right.   

Workplace absences for childcare reasons is a reality, and I am sure you had your fair share of employees you feel used it as an excuse.  And with the flu and RSV season just beginning, parents have to make a choice between caring for their children and keeping their jobs. A difficult situation for both parents and employers for obvious reasons.

What is important here is that an employee cannot use their sick leave for when their child is sick.   Family Responsibility Leave is applicable for a sick child.  Employees are entitled to 3 days of family responsibility leave per year. (12 months’ period from date of employment)

Who qualifies?  Employees who have worked for longer than four months for the same employer, and who is employed on more than four days per week with the same employer, qualifies for family responsibility leave.  Mothers and fathers.  Yes, I know, I can hear you say but the mother must take off when the child is sick.  Keep in mind that nowadays parents share responsibilities and roles, so you might get it that a father applies for FRL too.          

You have the right to ask for reasonable proof before you pay this type of leave.  An employee can take a whole day or just a part of the day, so the key is good recordkeeping.  You do not have to pay family responsibility leave when the child minder is sick. 

Reality is when you do an audit on how many times employees was off because of sick children it will probably be more than 3 days per year.  And the other side of the coin is that your employees might think you are heartless when you say they must make a plan because you cannot stand in every time the child is sick.

So how do we solve this so both parties feel happy.  Is it possible?  I don’t think there is a one size fit all solution and I would suggest you handle each case on its own merit.   

Do try the following:    

1. Collaborate on Solutions – Talk to your employee about possible solutions

a.) Flexible Scheduling

b.) Extended lunch breaks   

2. Offer Remote Work Opportunities

3. Integrate Family Care Into Your Policies   

This way you can help strengthen relationships between you and your employees so that they know they have your support during times of crisis or illness, and you know they will not abuse your kindness.

If you do not have the necessary leave forms or need assistance managing your employees leave records, contact us today.