The Long Weekend “sickie” & How to Deal With It!

The long weekend/public holiday sickie is a world-wide phenomenon, it’s not just an Aussie thing. In France they even have a word for it “le pont” meaning “the bridge” which leads in to any national holiday. It can be frustrating when staff abuse sick leave and is unfair on other staff who have booked in annual leave days.  Read on to see how to deal with sickies… especially during the upcoming holiday season!



…despite your annoyance at your staff pulling strategically timed sickies that coincide with long weekends I bet you don’t have a sick leave policy that specifically covers sick days taken close to a public holiday? If you do then you are covered and it should make enforcing best practice among your staff.


Get a leave policy in place – stat!

If you don’t have a sick leave policy then you should implement one which requires anyone who takes a sick day the day before, or day after a public holiday, to have a doctor’s certificate.  But your policy shouldn’t just deal with sickies and long weekends it should address all aspects of taking sick leave. It doesn’t have to be a mammoth document just something that lays out (in very plain words) some rules/guidelines for taking sick leave – specifically guidelines that will help you address or prevent some of the most common issues in your workplace.

Many large workplaces have this type of policy in place to keep things in check. It’s usually always the same people who pull sickies close to public holidays but if you have a policy in place that deals with this is means it applies to ALL staff and no one will think they are being unfairly targeted.

If you don’t have this type of policy in place then all you can really do is smile sweetly and offer honey and lemon when your staff start coughing in the lead up to the long weekend.

We always like to give our staff the benefit of the doubt and depending on the work environment you are trying to achieve being understanding is a great first step when someone is calling in sick – but you need to be careful about staff taking advantage of you and your business. In the end it’s simple really. You’re sick either side of a long weekend?  You are sick more than X number of days? Well then, you have to show a doctor’s certificate. They are not sick enough to go to the doctor to get a certificate? Then maybe they are not sick enough to skip work?


Make it clear, make it accessible – and then enforce it.

…but having a policy is not the only thing you need to do – you need to communicate the policy to all staff… so everyone knows what the deal is. Include it in your new starter pack – and any other policy documents.

Most of all, make it clear that these “sick leave” policies will be enforced…. EVERY TIME.


…but be reasonable.

In today’s business world you need to offer your staff a flexible working environment – or they will move on to another employer. Be an employer of choice and you’ll nab the best staff – and keep them. Make sure you look into why certain staff are taking excessive sickies and see if there might be a legitimate reason for it i.e. perhaps their family lives interstate and they use those times to visit them but they can’t afford to use a day’s leave?  Sometimes it’s good to find out why something is happening before you make a decision about how to deal with the situation.

To be reasonable but also keep your business’ best interests in mind you might like to consider letting your staff know that you don’t mind people taking three or four day holidays as long as the business has time to prepare and everyone is transparent. Work with your staff to help them get the leave they need (to have a life) without it being a burden on your business.  Your staff will appreciate this and you’ll have a better relationship with your staff.

And if after all of this your staff are still taking sickies then stick to your guns and be consistent.