Holding associates accountable during COVID-19

We have gone away from pointing associates for being out sick since COVID-19 began. We are encouraging associates to stay home if they are sick and symptom free for 72 hours. My question is, how do we manage those associates that call in every week stating they are sick and there is a clear pattern of attendance issues? The associate is fine with taking time without pay for these days he is calling in each week. He is half a point away from termination before COVID. Any recommendations?

In another location, they are working 30 hours a week, because volume is down. The associates are calling in sick in order to draw unemployment and only work 23 hours of work. In this state, if they work more than 23 hours a week, their unemployment earnings drop, so they are making more money working 23 hours a week and drawing unemployment than working 30 hours a week. How do we manage holding these associates accountable to come to work and not call in sick each week?

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  • Hi Christina, not sure if your issues are resolved but here are my suggestions.

    1) For the first case, let's assume that you have already checked that the associate isn't actually immunocompromised or living with someone who is vulnerable to COVID or other illnesses which would account for why they're calling in sick. Assuming no such issues, it seems that if the associate was half a point away from termination prior to termination, he is aware that his performance was not acceptable and likely knows he is about to lose his job.  Is it a performance issue that can be rectified by more training or additional resources?  Is it a conduct issue, where he knows what to do but just refuses to do it?  Is it an aptitude issue, where the associate truly doesn't have what it takes to do a good job?   Whichever it is, I recommend that you sit him down (in person ideally) and talk to him candidly about what you've seen with respect to performance or conduct.  If the former, offer additional training or resources, whatever might help him improve, and give him a timeline for sustained improvement.  If it is conduct, lay out the expectations, gain an agreement from him that he will work to those expectations, and make it clear you will take action if you don't see immediate and sustained improvement.  If aptitude, have a conversation about whether this is the right job for him.  Whichever, have an honest conversation with him about what you're seeing and say that your concern is that he is calling in sick because of his performance or conduct issues unrelated to COVID and you'd like to see an improvement in attendance.


    2) In some jurisdictions, the unemployment benefits have created a disincentive to return to work full time.  For this situation, I would say, "If you can 't beat them, join them."  What I mean is why not just change your shifts temporarily to be 23 hours/week for all employees for the duration that your jurisdiction's unemployment benefits kick in.  That may allow you to recall more employees back to work to make up the extra time needed, or you may find that you are as productive with a 23 hour shift/week as you are with a 30 hour shift/week and won't need to have so many people in for those extra 7 hours/week.


    I hope this helps. Good luck!

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    • Angela Champ I appreciate your advice and taking the time to respond, thank you!!

  • Christina Abercrombie  I hope your situations resolve well.  Good luck!

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