Is your company looking ahead to prepare for the growing trend of “tele-commuting” while sick?
In a perfect world, no one would get sick and this wouldn’t even be an issue, but since employee illness is inevitable, it is wise to have a policy in place.
Obviously, sick employees should not come in to work where they can potentially spread their illnesses to others. However, and here’s the kicker – work still needs to be completed. And, in order to stay on top of things or not wanting to miss out on pay, many employees opt to work from home while sick.
It is of course perfectly possible to feel too ill to go in to the office but fit enough to sit in front of a computer and work. But – and this is a big one – Can the work that the sick employee is doing be successfully completed at home? How productive is he/she while suffering from an illness, and shouldn’t he/she be resting rather than working? Also – and this is a very important question – How can abuse of the arrangement be prevented?
Employers should state clearly when and to what capacity working from home is appropriate. They should be clear on the fact that when an employee has a fever or a serious illness that requires bedrest, then he or she should take the time to actually rest and avoid performing any work. Have a policy to encourage employees to refrain from working at home if they are legitimately ill. Working while ill impairs the performance of workers and results in lower company productivity.
A good idea is to start your policy by addressing which positions can be allowed this flexibility. This arrangement may not be appropriate for all positions or tasks. For example, running a simple report may be okay, but a complex analysis may be a bit of a stretch for an ill employee. You may also want to stipulate at which point an employee is sick enough to work from home. For example, will seasonal allergies qualify to work from home? Also, if you decide not to allow employees to work from home while they are sick, a clear policy stating this should be in place.
Working from home must be done by agreement. If an employee is well enough to work but still too sick to go in to the office, employers could provide him or her with the tools to do so. Audio and video conferencing and online collaboration tools could be utilized instead of face to face meetings. However, allowing employees to work from home (whether they are sick or not) requires a degree of trust on your part, and professionalism and maturity on theirs.
The takeaway? A clear policy on working from home while being sick will help to create a healthy and caring environment in the workplace by providing employees with enough flexibility to enable them to be as productive as possible, without jeopardising their health. However, also have a policy to encourage employees to refrain from working at home if they are too ill to do so.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.