Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 15th 2015 Contents In times of plenty, organisations some-
times tolerate undesirable habits.
Employee absenteeism may be one
such case. The cost to organisations
has been, and continues to be, high.
Its effects are insidious and far reach-
ing. In times of economic strictness, such as
that which T&T is currently experiencing, this
will probably be considered a luxury that can
no longer be afforded.
Employee absenteeism is an area of concern
that is often neglected or ignored but which
requires the attention of management because
of its importance to the economic well-being
of the organisation.
Employee absence from work is usually part
of terms and conditions of employment in
T&T. It is embedded in the existing minimum
wages order in the form of vacation leave and
sick leave and it is a normal part of collective
agreements and individual contracts of employ-
These provisions are generally accepted as
good employment practice. If this is so, then
why should employers---and employees---be
concerned about employee absenteeism?
To answer this question, we may have to
explore the difference between employee
absence from work and employee absenteeism,
the difference between eligibility and entitle-
ment to different types leave, their use and
the abuse of, acceptable and unacceptable
levels of employee absenteeism and responsible
behaviour towards the use of employee ben-
efits, such as sick leave and personal leave.
In T&T, there is often a prevailing workplace
culture where eligibility to sick and casual
leave is interpreted as entitlement to them,
and the allocations are deliberately exhausted
as a "right."
The abuse and misuse of such leaves are
complex matters that require creative
approaches and judicious application of both
incentive and discipline, and cases must be
assessed on an individual basis, using the
guidelines of the Industrial Court.
It is necessary for companies to assist in
changing the culture of workplaces, so that
employees shift focus from being absent from
work given the opportunity, to attending work
regularly and punctually and being productive
when they are at work. Employees on the
other hand, should be continually asking them-
selves what value they are adding to the organ-
They should be challenging themselves to
increase their contribution to their respective
organisations, otherwise they may run the risk
of becoming irrelevant or even obsolete.
In order to gain and maintain the edge in
today s globalised marketplace, it is crucial
that our competitiveness be increased. This
country s scores in successive World Economic
Forum s Global Competitiveness Index indicate
that T&T needs to improve significantly several
areas such as "Poor work ethic" and "Pay for
productivity". In the most recent Report, "Poor
work ethic" overtook "Inefficient government
bureaucracy" as the "Most problematic factor
for doing business" in T&T.
Employee productivity is one area which
the chamber has been advocating as a key
determinant in the thrust to making our enter-
prises more competitive locally, regionally and
When an employee is absent from work,
his or her productivity is zero. The cost of
that employee continues while replacement
costs may also be incurred.
Employee morale could suffer and opera-
tional efficiency reduced.
The cumulative impact on the enterprise
over an extended period could be deleterious
and in some cases disastrous.
The end result could be loss of market share,
both local and international, with consequential
reduction of employment opportunities. This
is a human cost which is avoidable and we
should take timely action to do so.
The chamber believes that increased national
productivity is a key success factor in this
country s goal to increase competitiveness and
should have special focus as we chart our way
forward. The global economic environment
demands no less.
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 15 • 2015
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
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