Never Been Absent – Leave Policy at

Calling in sick (basically, unannounced leaves) wreaks havoc with the day’s plan. Apart from missed deadlines, inefficiency due to changed schedules, it also indicates a lack of professionalism. According to Kronos Global Absence Survey, Indian employees ranked 2nd in admitting to calling in sick when they are actually not ill. A whopping 60+% of Indians admitted to faking illness for a day off.

When we started 6 years ago, we faced the same trouble in our early days. Instead of making peace with it, we thought of ways to build a culture where this does not happen.

Never Been Absent - Leave Policy at software company in Goa

We identified key reasons and worked at mitigating those.

Personal work (visiting the bank/ accompanying family to doctor etc.)

We had a flexible work hours policy in the pipeline and this was a catalyst to speed that up. In use for over 5 years now, the policy has been an amazing success. Team members can now visit the bank/ doctor/ barber/ lawyer and then start work. More details on the flexi hour policy in a separate post.

No sick leave quota.

Most leave policies have an allotted sick leave quota. This is also needed as per the Shops & Establishment Act and labour policies in India. We removed the distinction between sick leaves and other type of leaves, so one could use the sick leave quota for holidays/any other. Now you don’t have to fall ‘sick’ to get a sick leave!

What’s the big deal? It’s just one day off.

  • Not everyone understood what the fuss was about. We knew that we needed to bring about an attitude-change towards these unplanned leaves.
  • We started marking unplanned leaves in the leave calendar. So any leave that was communicated less than 12 hours before start of day was put in red, an unplanned leave.
  • Each time someone took an unplanned leave, we made it a point to speak to the team member the following day and stressed on why leaves should be communicated in advance. We also touched on these leaves during our reviews.

Celebrating those who don’t take unplanned leaves

Every now and then, we acknowledge and appreciate the professionalism of team members who go an entire year without unplanned leaves. We call them the “NBA” Stars or Never Been Absent.

NBA Stars, Planned Leaves

These small steps decidedly went a long way in building a culture of responsible leaves. Holidays and leaves are necessary for a healthy workplace. On an average, an team member has about 30 off days a year, in addition to the 2 day weekend. Our unannounced leave statistic? Down to almost zero.