An employee called in sick, then posted photo on Facebook

If you think your employee is abusing sick days, here’s what to do

A practice owner writes:

One of my vet techs called in sick on two occasions over the past six months, and each time posted photos of herself on Facebook on the day she was sick. Most of the staff are ‘Facebook friends,’ so I saw the post in my newsfeed the day it was posted, and other team members ‘liked’ it. On one occasion it was a selfie of her dressed up, with make­up on, looking like she is ready to go out. The second time, it was a photo of her dog, at the beach.

We have a social media policy, but it doesn’t address anything like this. It deals primarily with posting photos of pets, clients and the clinic. My concern is that she wasn’t really sick and is taking advantage of personal leave days. Other team members had to work late to cover her shift, and they have seen the photos as well, so I suspect they are questioning the validity of her sick days as well.

I would like to speak to her about this, but I’m unsure how to approach it.

This is something that many managers would ignore and put in the ‘too hard’ basket, so I applaud you for wanting to address it. 
It’s a tricky one though!

The photos she posted may have been taken on another day — she could be lying in bed sick, playing with her phone and simply chose to post the photos now.

I don’t suggest you go down the road of policing sick days. Personally, I think it’s disgusting to ask for a death certificate when an employee needs to take a day off when a family member dies, but I know of many practices that do this.
The underlying issue is trust, and you need to decide if you trust your employees or not. If you don’t, you have a far bigger issue that a photo or two posted on Facebook. If her performance isn’t meeting expected standards or you don’t trust her, make this the subject of the conversation.

You are right in saying that other team members, especially the ones who covered her shift, would see the photos and feel lied to. Or they might start to emulate this behavior, believing it’s OK to misuse sick days. So if you believe there isn’t a wider underlying performance or trust issue, I would focus on this when speaking to her.

Let her know that you trust her and you’re not questioning the legitimacy of her sick day. Say you understand the photos she posted were probably taken on another day, but that not everyone in the team will perceive it this way. Ask her to be considerate of this in the future.

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