Flu season is right around the corner, and with it, employees calling in sick. Not all of these call-ins will be real, however. Up to 40% of employees actually call in and pretend to be sick in order to get the day off. For some companies, this can affect productivity and the ability of the other employees to do their jobs properly.

While companies can make do for when employees are genuinely sick, it can feel like a slap in the face to discover later on social media that an employee was actually at a concert and not at home sick after all. Many employees who have faked a sick day have actually ended up fired as a result of the dishonesty.

But what can companies do to prevent their employees from faking sick days?

Require a Doctor’s Note

Some companies require sick employees to provide a doctor’s note before they allow the absence to be counted as a sick day. This does require employees to prove that they are really ill, but it has the opportunity to backfire, especially if the employee is sick with something run-of-the-mill that doesn’t actually require a trip to the doctor.

Getting a doctor’s note for something like a cold or the flu would require employees to make unnecessary trips to the doctor, increasing health care costs. On the other hand, if the employee chooses not to get the doctor’s note and instead comes into work sick, they could infect the rest of the office. Even mild illnesses like a cold can affect employee productivity and morale.

Check up on Employees

Some managers take the time to actually check in on employees who have called in sick, especially when they have noticed a pattern of supposed illness around holidays or weekends. Some employees who have faked sick will post about it on social media, making this job a lot easier. Others are smarter about faking sick, but a drive-by of their home or a call to their residence could prove they’re not actually sick.

The downside of this is that it wastes the manager’s time. Your company’s managers should have better things to do than driving past an employee’s house to make sure they are actually sick. Plus, this sort of policy could make employees who really are sick feel like they aren’t trusted and encourage employees to come into work when they are sick.

Review Sick Leave Policy

One way to keep employees from faking a sick day is to remove sick days altogether. Increasingly, companies are offering all leave bundled together as PTO, rather than separating sick days out. This way, employees can request time off with no questions asked at all. They can take earned time for whatever they need, whether it’s for an appointment, for genuine illness, or even just for a vacation.

Examine Company Culture

It’s also worth the time to look at how your company culture views taking time off. Employees may feel pressured to make up an excuse to take a day off so that they’re not looked at as unproductive. Employees have earned their PTO days and have every right to take them, but in a company that frowns upon actually taking time off, they may feel that they have to lie about it.

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