Sick days and paid time off are often a contentious issue with workplaces. There are many ways to deal with sick leave and paid time off, but a common perk being offered in today’s workplaces is an unlimited sick day policy. There are both advantages and risks to unlimited sick days, so we’ve put together some information to help you decide whether or not you should introduce unlimited sick days.
What Does Unlimited Sick Days Mean?
Unlimited sick days means that sick time or paid days off for illness are not given annual allowances. This means that if a staff member is ill, they can take the day off to recover no matter how many days they have been off sick the past year. Unlimited sick days ensure that all staff members have the ability to take as many days off for illness as they need.
Unlimited sick days does not necessarily mean that days off sick won’t be tracked or team members don’t need to prove their illness. How unlimited sick days work depends entirely on the organization. Some companies simply ask that paid sick time is tracked in a staff member’s timesheets and that primary supervisors are notified of an absence. Other organizations may request a doctor’s note for any days taken sick, while others may state that a doctor’s note is required after a certain amount of absence (a week, for example). For the most part, businesses will continue to track how many sick days an employee uses, there just isn’t a limit to how many days an employee can use.
7 Advantages of Unlimited Sick Days
There are several advantages to unlimited sick days. We’ve put together our top seven.
- Less Sick Days Taken On Average
- Increased Productivity
- Less Working While Sick
- Improved Morale
- Increased Employee Retention
- Attract New Hires
- A Safer Workplace
1. Less Sick Days Taken On Average
This may surprise you, but studies of businesses that implement unlimited sick days have found that less sick days are actually taken, on average. There are many reasons why this may be the case. Businesses that have a limited number of sick days often have a ‘use it or lose it’ policy that means if an employee doesn’t use all their sick time, they won’t have a carry over to the next year. This often means employees may try to ‘use up’ their sick time so as to not have lost out. Another reason could be that employees recover faster due to having less stress over how much time they have ‘left’. Whatever the reason, on average, employees with unlimited sick days use less than employees with traditional sick day plans.
2. Increased Productivity
Unlimited sick days allow employees to take time off when they’re feeling unwell, ensuring that they are their best selves while working. Working while not feeling well can often lead to reduced productivity, meaning their time would be better spent resting at home. Unlimited sick days can also improve productivity due to the security employees feel that they won’t need to work while sick, so they have an increased desire to contribute to the workplace and be a motivated team member.
3. Less Working While Sick
Companies that have a capped number of sick days often have staff members working while sick. Just because an employee is present at work doesn’t mean they’re contributing to the workplace or even getting their work done. Working while sick often leads to longer illnesses in employees, and it can mean they make mistakes that can anger clients, cost the company money, or simply take a long time to fix. Working while sick can often lead to even less productivity, so it’s beneficial to reduce the amount of time staff work while sick by introducing unlimited sick days.
4. Improved Morale
Employees who work at companies with unlimited sick days often feel a stronger sense of connection to their workplace, and they typically feel more positively about their jobs. Reducing the stress employees feel about illness by ensuring they always get paid can make them happier in and outside the office as well as improve the corporate culture through a more positive attitude generally.
5. Increased Employee Retention
Unlimited sick days is a huge perk for employees, especially since not many companies in Canada offer it. Offering unlimited sick days can be a great way to increase employee retention, as the idea of losing unlimited sick days can greatly improve employee loyalty and help your team feel content with their work.
6. Attract New Hires
Just like unlimited sick days can improve employee retention, it can also attract new hires in a competitive market. Even if you’re not able to match another company’s salary, some hires may choose the perk of reduced stress and increased peace of mind thanks to unlimited sick days. If you’re looking to give your company an edge for hiring, unlimited sick days is definitely a way to do so.
7. A Safer Workplace
If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that coming into work sick can be quite dangerous. Not only can it keep employees sick for longer, but it can also spread illness around a workplace and harm others. Working while sick can even lead to injuries and dangerous mistakes, depending on the industry you work in. Unlimited sick days allows employees to stay home while sick, protecting themselves and their fellow workers without any fear of lost income.
Risks of Unlimited Sick Days
While there are many advantages of unlimited sick days, there are also some risks associated with it.
1. Potential Abuse
One of the main risks, and fears, associated with implementing an unlimited sick day policy is the risk of abuse. When given a free-for-all sick policy there will always be a risk that employees would abuse the policy and take sick time even when not ill. Although this is always a risk, it’s important to hire the right people to ensure that the policy is not abused.
2. Feeling a Lack of Balance
With unlimited sick days, there will always be employees who use more than others. Some people get sick more or less than others, it’s the way of the world. With this, however, may come a feeling of unfairness for those who do not use much sick time versus those who need more. Employees who get sick less often may feel like there’s little reward for being present as often as they are, so it’s important to ensure that sick days don’t feel like a reward or vacation time.
3. Ambiguity in Use
Unlimited sick days can lead to some ambiguity. Staff members may wonder if the policy is the same if their children or dependents are sick, or if sick time only refers to their own, personal illness. There are some risks with unlimited sick days in how the time off can and should be used.
Are you considering offering unlimited sick days as an employee perk? Here at Recruitment Partners we work with companies and candidates to help find the right fit. We hear what candidates are looking for in workplaces and what companies are prepared to offer. We’d love to learn more about what our company can do to help you end your search!