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A healthier approach to sickness

A fifth of workers pretend to be sick to get time off work, according to the BBC website.

This highlights one of the many advantages of outsourcing your essential business services over employing staff of your own. You’ll escape this tricky situation of staff ‘pulling sickies’ for two reasons:

  1. You don’t pay a self-employed person for the time they have off sick.
  2. They are less likely to take time off sick because the lost revenue affects them directly.

The story quotes Peter Abelskamp, of Aon Consulting, who commissioned the study, saying: “Employers would be well advised to tackle the issues of sickness and workplace absence head-on, as these seriously impact efficiency and hit their balance sheets.”

One of the best ways of doing that is to downsize, employ less staff and hire your experts on your own terms. I believe the days of businesses needing in-house HR, finance and administration departments are gone or dying as more and more essential services can be outsourced to one-man bands offering expertise together with total flexibility. And if your supplier is sick you don’t have to lose any revenue on commitments they can’t fulfil.

On the other side of the coin, as a self-employed person you have to protect yourself in the event of sickness – one of the risks of setting up in business yourself is that you take on the full responsibility for your own sick cover. Critical illness cover and disability income insurance are essential and should be reviewed and reassessed regularly.

Another way to prepare for the worst is to build up a network of associates or trusted people working in the same field as you – people you can pass work to when you need a break or some time off sick. That way, your clients receive a seamless service, you keep your own business ticking over and you can take the rest and recovery time you need.

If it’s just a case of the sniffles, you can take advantage of being your own boss, especially if you’re a homeworker, and take the day ‘half-off’. You can take your laptop to bed, only deal with critical emails and phone calls and file the rest. There is no point pressuring yourself to work when you’re ill and ending up becoming even more ill.

There’s an idea growing among American companies of giving staff two or three ‘duvet days’ per year. These enlightened employers acknowledge that all of us have days when we’re not exactly ill, but still feel completely out of sorts. As a self-employed person, you can award yourself a ‘duvet day’ and take it easy. You have to be disciplined enough to know whether you genuinely are off colour, or you’re just being lazy – but when you are responsible for everything that happens in your business that shouldn't be too difficult!