Office Policies & Your Business-How Do You Handle These Situations?

Creating office policies for your small business can be difficult, as most of us are well aware.  How do you handle sick time, vacation time, personal time, or a death in the family?  Better yet, how do your clients and/or customers handle it when it happens to you?

I was reading a very interesting article yesterday about “Can You Require Sick Employees to Stay Home”?  My first reaction was “Wow!  Good question” quickly followed by “as a small business owner I should be able to”. After all, it is officially cold and flu season and already every where you go people are coughing and sneezing; do you really want them bring that to work?  I know I don’t want that to happen!

Sunburst, like many other small businesses consists of my husband Ben, myself, and Cheryl {who works 2 mornings a week}.  It’s a given that if I get sick so will Ben and vice versa – but what about Cheryl?  Does she need to come to work and end up with “whatever” we have, take it home and “give it” to everyone that she comes into contact with?  Or should she come to work and we end up getting “whatever” it is she has?

Coming to work when you are sick isn’t any fun for anyone – you, the people you work with in your office, or your clients and customers.  When we’re sick we just don’t perform our job duties with our usual amount of professionalism, courtesy, or speed – as a matter of fact I know I get downright crabby when I’m sick; mainly when I can’t think as fast as usual and especially if I have to repeat things to the same person multiple times during the same conversation.

There are no federal laws which specifically address whether or not employers can require employees to say home and not come to work; however, the Americans with Disabilities Act {ADA} does prohibit employers from discriminating against the disabled, although having a cold or the flu is not considered being disabled.

Encouraging employees to take a paid sick day and stay home when they have a fever, is often a common practice for larger companies and might be something that you want to consider having in place as an “office policy”.  I’m sure many of you are gasping at this point and thinking “I can’t afford that!”, but think about it – which is cheaper – paying a sick employee to stay home so that others don’t get sick OR letting them come to work and you all end up getting ill?  Just a thought….

In the ever increasing 24/7 connected world we live in – expectations run high – and sometimes people overlook that fact that people are sick, are away on vacation, at a Doctor’s appointment, or have had a death in the family.  When we are connected 24/7 we fall into that immediate gratification or I gotta have it now trap and when those expectations are confronted by someone being unavailable some of us become very intolerant.

When you are the chief cook and bottle washer {or there is only yourself and perhaps a part time person} for your small business, it’s certainly difficult to justify taking time off; I know it is for us.  Most years we are hear every day except major holidays, occasionally we are out of town {or out of state} on business, and if we are lucky once a year we take a week in vacation.

How do you handle situations such as sick time, vacation time, personal time, or a death in the family in your business?  Do you have written policies in place or do you pretty much just “wing it” and handle it the best that you can at the moment?  How do your customers or clients handle your being unavailable or away?