Does your company make use of what is known as a sick leave bank? A sick leave bank is a policy that some companies adopt in which employees are permitted to “donate” their excess sick time to a organization-wide bank. This bank is made available to other employees who may need additional sick leave above and beyond what he or she may normally accrue due to serious illness.
Sick leave banks are actually not a new concept. However, more and more organizations are beginning to put similar policies into effect in order to better support employees with serious illness. As a student of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and someone who has had her fair share of jobs in different types of organizations, I was surprised to only just now learn of this concept when apparently it has been at work in organizations for decades. A quick internet search will reveal a myriad of personnel handbook policies from numerous companies that use this benefit.
While this seems like a perfectly logical policy for organizations to better support certain employees, there is a small risk in that some employees may feel inclined to abuse this benefit. Some companies require employees who draw from the bank to have a long-term condition documented, while other companies do not. If your company has a sick leave bank, do you find that anyone abuses the benefit or is it truly as good as it sounds?
Our recent panel data revealed that only 55% of all employees surveyed felt that their supervisor cared about them as an individual, leaving much room for improvement. In theory, a benefit such as a sick leave bank would help employees with serious illnesses to understand that the organization cares about them and wants to help them through any difficulties that illness can cause, particularly for one’s work life. This feeling of compassion would likely translate to a greater connection and commitment to the employer. The question is: does it really work?