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Why your startup needs a sick leave policy

Posted by Neha De

February 4, 2019

Do you like working with people who are sick? Probably not.

Would your employees like sharing space with someone coughing and sneezing? Of course not.

Do you like it when employees call in sick when they really aren’t? That’s an easy one – we’re sure your answer is no.

If there was a ripple effect, and everyone called in sick in the same week, what would happen to your startup?

Because of these scenarios, we look at why your startup needs a sick leave policy from day one.

Policies are vital

Before you start hiring staff, you want to have an employee handbook in place with policies and procedures.

This is where your sick leave and paid time off policies begin. After this is down in writing, you can lead by example.

Set an example

In the early days of most startups, employees are working in close quarters, so if one of them gets sick and comes to work, you can be sure that several more employees will succumb quickly.

This is terrible for productivity and can leave you understaffed and in big trouble.

Yet, for most people, they feel the need to power through and show up for work even if they’ve got the flu. Somehow workplace culture has dictated this, and employees feel guilty for calling in sick.

Who is responsible for this? The leaders and managers have cultivated this culture. If you want to effect change, you need to be the change.

Keeping your sick employees at home helps your startup in so many ways:

  • You reduce the amount of contagion.
  • Productivity stays high because the illness stays out of the office.
  • You are actively building morale and a culture of employee appreciation.
  • Eventually sick days are reduced because numerous staff members aren’t out sick.
  • You improve the overall health and wellness of your team.
Make sure your team knows you want them to stay home when they’re sick regardless of what’s going on at work. Set the example and stick to it.

Talk to us about how our outsourced HR solutions can help you provide employees with competitive benefits.

Allow flexible work options

You might consider allowing your staff to work from home on occasion. If you do, this should also be in your policies.

By adding flexible and remote work options, you make it easier for sick workers to feel “ok” staying home.

This keeps your staff germ-free and allows some work to get done.

Yet, make sure that you let your team know you care about them and their health, and you do not expect them to work when they’re sick. Let them know you really want them to get better first, and they should work from home only when they feel up to it.

Consider changing the term

Another reason a sick leave policy is important is for the employees who call in sick when they really aren’t sick.

Yes, it happens, and it will happen to your startup. Employees need a break, and if you don’t have policies in place and a healthy work culture, you will have team members call off work on the premise that they’re sick.

The old school model of doing things dictated paid time off for sick leave and vacation time by separating the two and offering different quantities for each. On occasion, businesses might throw in a personal day or two.

Some employees who aren’t ever sick might feel compelled to call in sick, so they use these days instead of losing them.

You can eliminate this problem by combining the two and letting your employees know they simply have paid time off that works when they need a vacation, a personal day, or recover from an illness.

This keeps everyone honest and allows for people to be sick when they’re sick.

Final thoughts

It’s up to you as the leader of your startup to promote a culture of care and understanding. Show your employees you support them, and in turn they’ll support you.

Do consider how you want to frame your sick leave and time off. Lead by example and make sure your team knows you want them to recuperate at home.

By showing extra care, you encourage more productivity and loyalty in your start up staff which ultimately leads to increased revenue and growth.

Want more?

Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups lower their payroll costs and bring in lasting value with our outsourced HR solutions — and we can help yours too. Talk to an expert today.  


Neha De
Neha De

Neha De is a writer and editor with more than 13 years of experience. She has worked on a variety of genres and platforms, including books, magazine articles, blog posts and website copy. She is passionate about producing clear and concise content that is engaging and informative. In her spare time, Neha enjoys dancing, running and spending time with her family.

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