How serious is a verbal warning really?

  1. Hey, all!

    To provide an introduction and some background, I am a 23-year old nurse who works in NC at a nationally-acclaimed Magnet hospital and this month marks 13 months that I have been practicing in the nursing profession. I have spent all of this time working on a cardiac telemetry unit, however, I am slated to start my new job in the Neurosurgical ICU in just 11 days.

    The company I work for has a very specific, linear absenteeism protocol for supervisors to follow regarding, well, employee absences. You are allowed 3 without any reprimand whatsoever, and any absences taken in consistency (Ex: calling out all 3 days in a week) are considered a single absence "event," which is essentially one absence in the eyes of the employer. The 4th absence or absence event results in a simple informal verbal warning with no real consequence; however, the following absences result in a formal verbal warning, written warning, a final warning, and termination.

    My question is: I have just called out for my 5th time and I am afraid this will affect my job status and/or will cause my manager to place a freeze on my already-approved transfer to NSICU. How serious is a formal verbal warning? I am a diligent and reliable employee who has never been reprimanded for anything, and often regarded with a high degree of respect and warmth by my all of my colleagues, including my supervisors and manager. Taking this into consideration, am I in trouble next time I go to work? Should I be concerned for my job? I have a lot of anxiety, so I am already giving myself a stress ulcer.
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  2. Visit FashionableRyanRN profile page

    About FashionableRyanRN, BSN, RN, EMT-B

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 9; Likes: 7

    35 Comments

  3. by   Wuzzie
    Concerned for you job unlikely. Concerned for your transfer most definitely. My experience has been that in many places you cannot transfer with any form of current discipline in your file. That is, of course, up to your manager's discretion.
  4. by   FashionableRyanRN
    So you do believe a formal verbal warning could potentially reverse my transfer even after everything has already been finalized?
  5. by   klone
    Nobody here can answer that question. This is a question for HR. Read your facility's policy on transferring to a different department and see if it addresses it.
  6. by   TriciaJ
    Do you have a union contract and how are absences addressed? If there is no union contract, then management can do whatever it wants. Employee absenteeism is expensive and disruptive and of course admin likes to discourage that. So they've implemented a system of progressive discipline with a paper trail so they can get rid of problem children with minimal fanfare.

    What's happening that you have to call out sick so much? If you have a chronic condition then you should look into FMLA. It will protect your job. If you're trying to maintain a very busy social life in addition to being a new nurse you might consider that your immune system is having trouble keeping up. You might want to have doctor's notes for any subsequent illnesses; hopefully your employer will see that you're not calling out frivolously. If you do have a low threshold to call out sick, you might want to tighten that up.
  7. by   verene
    In my view you aren't in serious trouble yet, but you are toeing the line. 5 call-outs in 13 months is a lot and could make a manager question how reliable you actually are. You probably won't be fired, but this may mess up things with your transfer, or give your new manager cause to be on the look out for any sign of not living up to expectations - not exactly a great way to start on a new unit.

    You are going to have to talk to HR and your manager(s) about how this will affect you specifically. Be prepared to have a concrete plan addressing the reasons you are calling out so frequently.
  8. by   FashionableRyanRN
    I just called my manager to ask just in case. Turns out my transfer is only at risk if I receive a written warning. To answer your questions about why I have called out so much, the majority of these call outs have been because I truly have been too ill to show up and adequately and safely perform the required functions of my job. In college I literally never missed a class over the span of 4 years. Not one. I went sick sometimes and stuck it out. I am not, by any means, lazy, manipulative, or trying to take advantage of my employer. I consider myself very responsible and mature.

    This really concerns me, however, because I realize how bad this looks to my new employer. I would certainly be less-than-impressed with my new employee if he/she was riding the disciplinary protocol into my unit on day 1. I get it. I know it poorly reflects on my character. On the other hand, I am unsure of how to convince this new manager I am a worthy hire aside from showing him. Words mean nothing.
    Last edit by FashionableRyanRN on Mar 18
  9. by   Sour Lemon
    I've exceeded the number of absences "allowed" more than a few times. If I'm sick, I will NOT go to work. I've never been written up or received a warning. The people I do see get warned and written up are the ones who do eventually get fired.
    I think you just put yourself on the radar by calling your manager up to ask about this. It's something I would ever do, but I suppose every work place is different.
  10. by   FashionableRyanRN
    I simply said that I'll come in vomiting if it puts my transfer on the line. I don't particularly care what she thinks of me, I just want to make sure at the end of the day I have my job. Our workplace is shrouded in an exceedingly lax atmosphere. I don't feel uncomfortable about many things. If I'm sick and unable to provide safe care to my patients, or am eligible to place a patient at risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection, I'm not going in, as you said.
  11. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    Yeah that's a silly rule. Sick days are for calling in sick. Getting a disciplinary action for the flu is just stupid
  12. by   FashionableRyanRN
    I completely agree. I personally don't believe being genuinely sick 5 times in 13 months is indicative of a distrustful employee. It is obviously more absences than expected, however, but illnesses do happen. I mean, we are literally surrounded by 10s of illnesses on a daily basis when we walk in the doors to our facilities. It's like HR forgets that we work to cure sick people. I think it to be honestly quite unreasonable to cast punishment upon someone for sequestering him/herself during a time of poor health. I would not want my nurse to be coughing up a lung and complaining about her sore throat. Anyway....just my opinion, I suppose. I must be a lunatic since this is clearly not the popular opinion.
  13. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from FashionableRyanRN
    I completely agree. I personally don't believe being genuinely sick 5 times in 13 months is indicative of a distrustful employee. It is obviously more absences than expected, however, but illnesses do happen. I mean, we are literally surrounded by 10s of illnesses on a daily basis when we walk in the doors to our facilities. It's like HR forgets that we work to cure sick people. I think it to be honestly quite unreasonable to cast punishment upon someone for sequestering him/herself during a time of poor health. I would not want my nurse to be coughing up a lung and complaining about her sore throat. Anyway....just my opinion, I suppose. I must be a lunatic since this is clearly not the popular opinion.
    No, I don't think anyone is advocating that you work sick. Since we don't know you from Adam, we didn't know why you had absences. It sometimes takes a new grad a year or two to work up an immune response to everything you are exposed to.

    Are your absences at least happening farther apart? That would be a good sign. I used to work for a hospital that had a similar 5 occurrences in a rolling year policy. We also had a union contract that did not address the 5 occurrences. For that reason, all management could do was harass nurses but not discipline them for the occurrences. Some would still come to work sick to avoid harassment. I always stated out loud that I did not abuse sick time and I did not come to work sick. That seemed to keep everyone off my back.

    If you're hitting your stride as a new nurse, you will be less of a sitting duck for every bug floating around. Hopefully this doesn't affect your transfer. Good luck.
  14. by   klone
    Quote from SpankedInPittsburgh
    Yeah that's a silly rule. Sick days are for calling in sick. Getting a disciplinary action for the flu is just stupid
    The disciplinary action is meant to deter or provide recourse for those who abuse it. And there are plenty who do abuse it.

    If you're getting "the flu" multiple times in a year, then you're either lying to get out of work, or should set up intermittent FMLA to address your ongoing health issues. ("You" in general, I wasn't speaking to anyone specifically)
    Last edit by klone on Mar 18

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