There are unique challenges when it comes to tracking sick leave. For example:
- Sick leave isn’t planned out in advance like a holiday. Yes, you’ll have times where an employee knows they have surgery or a medical appointment coming up, but most of the time, sick notices are last-minute notices.
For plenty of businesses, the de facto norm is getting a late night/early morning text from an employee that says they can’t make it in because they have a fever or otherwise don’t feel well. But this method isn’t ideal for anyone. Your sick employee has to get hold of you, which adds stress and hassle to their list of symptoms. And then you’re personally responsible for making sure the sick leave is tracked correctly and alerting everyone on your team.
- Your employee might need to provide some documentation. For example, in the UK, employees are required to show their employer a sick note (officially called a ‘fit note’) if they’ve called out sick for 5 consecutive days in a row.
- You need to separate paid sick leave from non-paid sick leave. Just because someone’s taking a sick day doesn’t mean it’s automatically paid. Some policies work with accruals (where sick leave allowance builds up over the year) and sometimes an employee will just run out of paid sick leave. Either way, your payroll department needs to work out whether that sick leave is paid or unpaid.
When you go looking for an efficient way to handle these unique challenges, the most common ways are:
- Option 1: Using a spreadsheet/Excel template.
- Option 2: Using a sick leave software/time off management app.
Let’s look at each of these options and check out the pros and the cons.
Note: Don’t want to mess around with a clunky spreadsheet? You can track your team’s sick leave (along with any other type of leave) using Timetastic’s time off management app. Start your free trial today.
Option #1: Tracking sick leave manually (with Excel templates/spreadsheets)
Plenty of companies will try to track their sick leave with an Excel template.
The overall process looks like this:
You’ll either download a leave tracking template (we review 2 popular ones here) or create your own and put in your team’s information.
When someone needs to take a sick day, they get hold of you, and then you open your spreadsheet and mark them as out sick for the day.
For this post, we’ll show what a template looks like using Microsoft Excel’s standard annual leave template as an example.
You can see there are different colours for holiday leave and sick leave, so you can quickly look at your spreadsheet and see why someone is off.
If someone is taking a sick day, you just find the date they’re calling out and type in “S” for sick. And then in the right-hand column, you can see a total of how many days they’ve taken off in the year.
It’s all fairly simple, but there’s a handful of disadvantages to using an Excel template that can make this option practically useless for most companies:
- Your spreadsheet lumps different types of leave together (see “total days” in the screenshot above). This means sick leave and holiday leave both get totted up, but you actually want them to be completely separate with their own record. So, if you’re using an Excel template, you either need to manually add up the sick days to get an accurate number, or create your own customised formula that removes it from the total.
- You have to manually update the spreadsheet. Every time someone calls in sick, you’ll need to pull up the sheet, find their name, and add their sick days. And if you forget to update your spreadsheet, it’ll end up causing problems with payroll.
- It isn’t easy to see if someone’s sick leave is paid or not. Excel templates aren’t a big help for your payroll because you don’t get an individual breakdown of each employee’s paid leave. You can’t easily see how much sick time someone has taken for the year.
Option #2: Tracking sick leave with software
For this section, we’re going to look at how tracking sick leave works in Timetastic — our all-in-one time off management app. Timetastic can automatically track sick leave as well as any other types of absence from work like holidays, maternity and paternity leave, sabbaticals, and more.
When you use Timetastic to track sick leave, you’ll always have:
- A clear breakdown of how much sick leave each employee has taken in the year (including when they’ve taken it).
- An updated time off calendar where your team can see when someone’s taking a day off.
- A simple way for your team to put in their sick leave notice, including attaching any necessary documents. This keeps all of your info in one easy-to-reference place.
Automatically updated records and sick leave tracking
When you use Timetastic, you can see all of your team’s sick leave notices (and other types of leave) from your company Wallchart.
The Wallchart tells you when someone is off and why they’re off. You can see your entire company in one view or filter down by department.
You can click on an employee's name and get a detailed breakdown of their annual leave, including sick leave or any other type of leave they’ve taken.
For example, in the image above, you can see that Awwal’s leave days are broken down into deductible leave (such as holidays) and non-deductible leave (such as sick days).
This gives you a complete view of someone’s sick leave history for the entire year.
You can also look for trends with Timetastic. Specifically, you can see when most of your team is taking sick leave throughout the year.
This can help you see if you need to adjust your policy. For example, if most of your team is getting sick at the beginning of the year, but most of your team’s sick leave isn’t accrued until later in the year, it might make more sense to change how your sick leave accruals work.
An easy way to put in for a sick day
We already looked at how you can track sick leave, but Timetastic is also an app that makes it stress-free for employees to inform managers about sick leave.
If someone needs to take a sick day, they just open their Timetastic app (or log in through their web browser), mark the date they need to take off as a sick day, provide any notes, and then send their request.
Once they send their request, your company’s Wallchart is updated so everyone on your team can see that someone is taking the day off. But only managers and admins can see why someone is off to help protect everyone’s privacy.
Note: You may still want your employee to reach out to their direct manager to let them know they’re calling in sick, depending on how your business operates. In this case, Timetastic doesn’t replace that process, but supplements it with a clear and recordable tracking process. Without Timetastic, when someone reaches out to their manager to call in sick, only the manager is up-to-date. But with Timetastic, all records are updated for easy reference.
Always keep payroll in the loop
There are two ways you can use Timetastic to make sure your payroll department is paying out for sick days correctly:
- Your payroll team can log into Timetastic. They can use your team’s Wallchart to see if anyone has taken a sick day within a specific pay period. Then they can click on an individual’s profile and see how much sick leave they’ve taken for the year. If they’re under the allotted amount for a year, then it’s paid. If they’ve taken more than allotted, then it’s unpaid.
- You can export sick leave information out of Timetastic. With Timetastic, you can export your team’s time off data into a spreadsheet. You can filter away everything that isn’t sick leave-related and send it over to your payroll department.
To recap, Timetastic is a simple to use time off management app that gives you:
- Up-to-date tracking on your team’s sick leave (as well as other leave types).
- Two ways to share sick leave information with your payroll department.
- An easy way for your team to put in their sick leave notice, so you don’t have to worry about updating your company calendar or their individual sick leave balance.
To see how Timetastic works with your team, start your free 30-day trial.
For more information on tracking time off, check out our posts on: