Leave management for dishonest employees

Rauf Fadzillah
Jun 22


The people that make up your organisation will influence everything from the quality of the work you produce to the types of new hires that join your team.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone is as honest as they should be. An employee may fake sick leave just to get an unnecessary day off work and an employee’s absence from work is too expensive for it to be unnecessary.

In a 2008 report by Dame Carol Black, the UK’s estimated annual economic costs of worklessness associated with working-age ill health and sickness absence have been noted to be over £100bn!

Although there may be some rotten apples, people are often fairly honest when it comes to applying for leave (especially when it comes to medical leaves of absence). Despite that, having to seek out a dishonest employee’s abuse of the leave process can prove to be a difficult task (especially if you run a fairly large organisation). It is therefore important to implement a well thought out leave management system so that your organisation can continue chugging along smoothly.

The impact that absenteeism can have on workforce productivity should not be underestimated or overlooked by employers. Constant absenteeism & encashment of leave can result in the buildup of otherwise avoidable costs and lead to customer dissatisfaction, increased employee turnover and much more.

Here are some tips for you to prevent the abuse of your company's leave policies by unscrupulous individuals:

  1. Maintain written policies
  2. Keep proper documentation
  3. Check on employees
  4. React appropriately to concerns

Maintain written policies

All the requirements regarding leave benefits & leave planning, including the conditions in which employees may take leave, how leave can be applied for and the types of employees that are entitled to leave should all be maintained in a comprehensive written policy.

If the leave of absence that is being provided for is required by law (example: maternity leave), be sure to clearly align your policy with legal requirements.

Keep proper documentation

Although some laws may have restrictions, the laws of many countries do entitle employers to ask for proper documentation from employees that apply for certain types of leave. Requesting documentation with regards to the reasons for taking leave, however, is a very subtle and human art. If for example, an employee is grieving over a loved one's passing, you generally wouldn't want to ask him/her for a death certificate (unless you suspect something is amiss). In cases where you do have the right to ask that documentation is provided, consider what types of documentation are reasonable to request for and remember to be consistent with your policy.

Check on employees


It is generally permissible for employers to periodically call employees who are on an extended leave in order to check how they are and when they plan to return. Take note, however, that the practice has to be consistent across your organisation and apply to all employees that are on extended leave. Be sure to not be too frequent or harsh with your checkups, otherwise, you may be deemed to be in legal violation of their rights. Also, take note that communication should be based on the employee’s reason for absence and should not interfere with his/her leave encashment rights.

React appropriately to concerns

Anyone involved in leave management should know how to effectively implement leave policies, how to respond to requests for leaves of absence and how to report suspicions of leave abuse.

In the case of suspicions of leave abuse, you should be sure to initiate an unbiased investigation. There should be a meeting with the employee as well as evidence that the employee may have violated the organisation's policies around leaves of absence. Documentation of the investigation and its conclusion should be present and again, you should be careful not to violate any laws throughout the process.

As mentioned, differentiating between an abuser of leave rights and an employee who has a legitimate reason to be on leave can be a daunting task so be sure to arm your leave management process with the necessary precautions in order to detect or prevent abuse by dishonest employees.

An efficient leave management system put in place today can save your organisation a whole lot of heartache in the future.

A smarter HR system for a smarter business: Carbonate helps you keep track of attendance and leaves in your company, and keeps you connected to your staff with its built-in broadcasting and promotion messaging tool. Its employee profiles and HR leave management system meet MOM 2016 Employment Act Amendment requirements. Click here to find out more.

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