Musings on Sick Leave

Big Red Car here.  Slow start today but looks like it will still be a nice day.  Going for a ride up to the Georgetown Airport this afternoon to do a bit of airplane stuff.

The Boss was up early and was talking to one of his CEOs on the subject of benefits and more particularly the “right attitude” toward sick leave.

Having run companies for over 30 years, The Boss has heard every story imaginable as to why folks have gotten sick and how long it takes to recover from being sick.  More importantly, he knows how policy can impact performance and efficiency.

You own your folks’ wellness

The Boss likes to think about “sickness” in the context of “wellness” — a look toward the bright side rather than focusing on the dark side.  Haha, The Boss — he’s a deep thinker.  Maybe not so deep as he thinks.

As a CEO and company driver, you own all of your folks’ problems.  This is the basic frame of mind you must wrestle with before you can get your mind right on the entire subject of benefits — including sick leave — and the fundamental relationship between an employer and its employees.  If you can’t embrace this basic truth, then you are sentenced to do some deep thinking.  [Lay on a nice chaise lounge and contemplate this.]

You own your employees’ problems including their wellness.  This includes illnesses and injuries.  You own them, so deal with them.

Sickness and wellness are a real cost of doing business

Getting sick, taking ill is not a personal affront to the business.  It is a normal part of living.  It is not personal.  It is predictable and real and it is a cost of doing business.

Now, before we get too damn sensitive, let me be clear — we are not talking about having a hangover because you were out late last night drinking shots of Jager.  We are talking about getting a cold, contracting the flu, having a car accident.

Paid sick leave?

So, the first question is always — Big Red Car, are you talking about PAID sick leave in which the sick person continues to receive their salary even when they don’t show up for work?

Yes, my beloved CEOs, I am not only suggesting that sick leave be PAID, I am telling you that it is an ordinary and necessary cost of doing business.  Folks are going to get sick.

You own their problems, so deal with it.

The Boss always used to give his employees a total of five sick days — five paid sick days per year per employee.

A bit of cleverness, perhaps?

While you are condemned to [Kind of a harsh word, Big Red Car, no?  Well, yes, it is.  It’s a harsh cruel world out there, CEOs — says the Big Red Car.] owning your employees’ problems, you are not foreclosed from being a bit clever in how you administer them.

The Boss used to make a deal with all of his employees:  At the end of each year, he would buy back any unused sick days at the rate of $50 per day.  You had to have at least two sick days to sell to be able to avail oneself of this deal.  In this manner, the employee had a real cost of being sick — each day they used cost them $50 at the end of the year.

Practice indicated that folks did not just roll over and call in sick when they had a bit of skin in the game.

The Boss is a clever fellow.  Well, sometimes.  Not nearly as clever as he may think himself to be.  [Haha, Big Red Car, you better watch yourself.]


In addition to buying back sick days, The Boss would also make provision for everyone to get a flu shot.  Getting flu shots in a fairly small headquarters can have a huge impact on the number of days of suffering the folks will endure.  The flu is a huge consumer of time.  It takes about 2-3 weeks to get ill, recover and get back up to speed.

All of this can be remedied by a “free” — paid for by the health insurance program — or inexpensive shot.  It is even possible to get a mobile shot service to come to your company and administer the shots.  Get a flu shot.

The Boss also used to be generous with vacation days and holidays and adding a few extra days (the Friday after Thanksgiving) to the work schedule.  In this manner, the folks were able to recover and to rest — perhaps the most important elements of wellness.  We will discuss these policies in detail on another day, CEOs.


The Boss used to have a wellness program which paid folks for gym dues, weight loss, exercise and other activities which improved wellness.  This was a very good program except for the guy who claimed he had ridden his bicycle for over 500 miles one month.  He failed to read the fine print that you could not receive more than $50 per month.

Still, this was an enormous benefit.  And folks loved it and used it extensively.

Alas, with the advent of recessionary times and the impending implications of Obamacare, the wellness program was cancelled.  It was a bad thing but a necessary consideration in running a business.

So, dear CEOs and friends, there you have it.  Pay for those damn five sick days, give a few additional days of rest and recovery and get your flu shot.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.








2 thoughts on “Musings on Sick Leave

  1. You are so right on this. I was schooled with the HP Way for 14 years when employees were treated extremely well. HP even owned summer cottages around North America where you could have a vacation in a cottage at a nominal subsidized cost.

    A lot of these things cost a bit of money, so you would have to be profitable in order to afford them, like what Google does in their cafeterias, transportation,etc.

    • .
      Nothing is possible without being profitable. Taking vacations is essential. You always have problems with drudges.

      Hey, you need a vacation, don’t you?


Comments are closed.