HR Q & A: Can We Ask About Previous Sick Time Use?

By March 22, 2017Blog

PayVision Online’s HR Answer Center Has The Answer


PayVision Online HR Answer Center

Imagine an entire HR department at your fingertips, 24 x 7, with a myriad of resources, news articles, documents and tools to help your business succeed.  One of the tools we especially like is the HR Snapshot which is delivered to your in-box with answers to FAQ. Here is a recent one on asking references about a prior employees use of sick time. Although this could affect your payroll processing, it could also open you to liability.

Question: Can we ask references about an applicant’s previous use of sick time? We’d like to get a sense of their reliability.

Answer: I strongly advise against making any inquiries into their history of calling in sick. Asking about absences due to illness or injury could run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act and give you information about an employee’s inclusion in a protected class that you’d be better off not having before hire.

Additionally, if you’re in a state that requires you to provide sick leave, making adverse employment decisions based on use of protected sick leave use (including deciding not to hire someone) could expose you to liability.

However, when calling references, it is permissible to ask generally about attendance and tardiness to get a feel for the candidate’s reliability.

HR Professionals To Help You

Contact us at 214-442-5888 to learn more about payroll and our integrated HCM. Our payroll specialists will be happy to help you. We can also share with you the benefits of our HR Answer Center, and quickly connect you with the pros to answer any questions you may have in determining appropriate inquiries for interviewing that will keep you from unnecessary exposure.

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