Meet the Usual Suspects – Wild Bill Ghost

The final member of our gang of the Usual Suspects is Wild Bill Ghost. He is the archetype of a problem long term absentee. Here’s a brief description of Wild Bill, see if you recognise him?

It’s been months since Wild Bill Ghost was last seen at work. He went absent with whilst waiting for an operation long time ago and no one has contacted him in months to find out how he is doing these days. The best part is that his manager left the company around the time of his operation and forgot to suspend his sick pay when he was meant to. They’ve now employed someone new to do Wild Bill’s job but Bill keeps getting his paycheck every month. He can’t believe his luck! And if he ever goes back, he will be due holiday pay for all the annual leave he has missed during the absence. What a bonus.

Usual Suspects Wild Bill GhostOf course, Wild Bill’s case is extreme. Luckily most companies don’t pay absent employees incorrectly for months and months but you’d be surprised to know how many employers do make quite considerable overpayments to absentees. If you think of a company of several hundreds or even thousands of employees, you’ll soon rack up a hefty bill.

Many companies take an indifferent view on their absence ghosts. “We’re not paying them sick pay so they’re not costing us anything and we have hired someone new to do the job”, they say. This solves the problem on the surface. The day-to-day job is being done and the customer is getting the service they expect. However, following the EU court ruling a few years back, absent employees now accrue annual leave during their absence. And as long as they remain on your payroll, they will be entitled to request their job back when they eventually feel up to or willing to come back to work. At this stage you may face quite an expensive deal. The length of service during the absence will also count toward entitlements in terms of severance payments in case you no longer need Wild Bill’s services and want to make them redundant.

As busy as managers may be with their daily, more urgent responsibilities, managing long term absence should not be neglected. Using a system like Honeydew’s Engage can help in keeping on track with absentees so that you don’t develop absence ghosts. The automatic triggers can be configured to remind managers to maintain contact with absentees both to stay up-to-date with their recovery but also to demonstrate the employer’s duty of care. That way you’re also ensuring that the absentees won’t feel neglected and have no reason to raise a grievance against their employer about the way their absence has been managed.

To meet the rest of the Usual Suspects, watch our video or read the previous articles on Butch Presentee, Annie Excuses, Buffalo Skiver and Sleeps-with-Smartphone. If you would like to know more about Engage or managing long term absence, why not get in touch!