Seven Days Off While On Probation!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sick leave during probation:

Please give me your thoughts on the following scenario: Staff member commences employment 2 Sept. To date staff member has had 7 full days sick leave, one half day and an early afternoon all for sick leave. Staff member still has another 2 months before completing probation. Please let me know your thoughts on what is reasonable regarding the amount of sick leave due to a staff member over the year (we have no mention in our contract of employment) and also your thoughts as to this amount of sick leave during probation.

Signed, Managing Director

Dear Managing Director:

During a probationary period, management has the discretion of continuing or discontinuing the employment of an individual without cause. This employee has taken 1 day off every two weeks. This is considered by most companies to be excessive. However, you did not say whether this employee took all this time off at once or each absence was a separate case. Secondly, you did not state whether this individual has medical problems, such as going to the hospital for radiation treatments, chemo, dialysis, etc. This would decide the matter. Third, are you in an “at-will” state? Fourth, absences should always be outlined in the employee handbook. Vagueness or ambiguity can only lead to problems.

The purpose of the probationary period is to determine whether the new employee is a “good fit” or should I say, “right” for the job. If the employee does not work out, then you are free to dismiss the individual without cause. Let me know what you decide to do. It is difficult to make rules for every possible scenario, but most workplaces have rules that have been formed as a result of problems.

Administration of these rules with consideration for the particular individual and situation is the best you can do. The questions suggested above are asked to explore these many factors.We wish you the best in using the probationary period to weed out bad hires and to “weed in” those you feel will do well. That is part of the process that we euphemistically refer to WEGO. Do feel free to share what you decide. Our forum is a way others like you learn from one another. The Workplace Doctors

Dan Kearney, Guest HR Respondent