Sick staff – should they stay, or should they go?

Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act went into effect in April, giving employees one hour for every 30 hours worked or 40 hours per year. That law applies to workplaces with 50 or more employees, including full-time and some part-time staff.

While there are some exemptions, employees can take paid leave for physical or mental illness, health conditions affecting themselves or a family member and more.

But beyond any paid leave acts or any extra contracted days off, there is something an employer should take into consideration – the rest of the staff.

Oftentimes, employees run out of paid leave. Perhaps a family member had a life-threatening illness, or they were just hit with an unexpected surgery resulting in an extended stay at home – the paid days off quickly dwindle.

When the office “shares” a cold, it is unknown who will fall and who will avoid the sickness. Production drops and morale is shaken as staff feel they can’t take more time to recover. So, what can you do?

  • Consider giving staff duties they can finish from home so that you can continue to see productivity, and they can continue to see the hours on their paychecks.
  • Offer an extra day or two off if the employee is willing to make up the time evenings or weekends.
  • Consider an option where other staff who don’t generally take time off can “share” their earned hours off.
  • Has the employee gone above and beyond in his or her efforts? Consider comping that person an additional day off.

Time-off policies look different from one business to the next, but if you can manage it as an employer, it behooves you to consider additional time-off options. It not only can stop a workplace illness from spreading, but it can significantly raise employee morale.


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