Top 10 Reasons We Get Fired! - Frequent Sick Days and Tardiness

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    To continue my series of articles of the top ten reasons we get fired. #7 is concerned with healthcare workers who call off or are tardy on a frequent basis. We have all worked with people who are late every day, or call off all the time. These kind of workers can be particularly annoying to all of us. Often they cause us to be late off duty or will delay giving us report which will often lead to resentment and bad feeling.

    A huge problem in healthcare can be an employee who is constantly late to work, or calls off frequently. Sometimes this is due to genuine problems in their personal life but often it is a pattern of behavior which is difficult to manage. This problem on a floor can often lead to resentment for co-workers, especially when they have had a difficult shift and want to go home.

    Number 7 in my series of Articles ‘Top Ten reasons we get fired’ has to be the frequent call off employee or the constantly tardy employee.

    Here in Ohio, many companies have a point system for tardy workers, and call offs.

    The Point System

    You have a bank of points, normally around 45-each time you are late you loose up to 3 points depending on how many minutes. 5 for a call off on a normal day, 10 for a call off at the weekend and 15 for a call off on a public holiday which includes the day before and the day after. You can see how these points quickly add up!
    Normally as you use up your points you start to get written warnings at 30, 20 and 10 points-HR will receive the notification of the warnings as they develop.
    Once somebody has reached 0 points- they are eligible for termination.
    If you do not lose any points with a calendar month then your bank increased by 2 points.
    Once a year if your points were 75 or more you could cash some of the points in for an extra day off.

    This is a nice, clean way of terminating an unsatisfactory employee, there is a clear structure of documentation along the way and it holds up really easily when the employee claims unfair dismissal with the unemployment agency.

    Remember in a previous article we discussed the paper trail! This can be utilized or demonstrated to be a perfect paper trail. Every employee in the company, who is paid hourly, has to be dealt in the same way. Managers normally keep a paper trail for each and every employee in order for it to be a fair system.

    Of course if you want to keep an employee because you as a manager feel they are valuable, the staffing situation could become dangerous if you terminated, you can negotiate with HR to give the employee back 20 points so that person is not terminated.

    I once worked with an employee who was a brilliant worker but had OCD, they were unable to leave home until everything was in order, this caused her to be 7-10 minutes late every day. I tried to work with her on a weekly basis to keep good time, it was just painful to witness.

    This timekeeping issue did cause a lot of concern and was a problem for her, she quickly pointed out and would try to maintain points, I did fight for her to be given 20 points back because I did not want to lose her, but as a company we were completely within our rights to terminate.

    On the other side, we had an employee who would come to work at least twice a month and become ill on duty, needing for him to be sent home. This employee also struggled with tardiness and sometimes his behavior made you question his sanity. When this person pointed out, they were terminated.

    Tardiness causes a great deal of resentment on a floor, especially for the employees who turn up for work on time, day after day and present themselves ready for report on time. Frustration develops when waiting to go home and a co-worker arrives a few minutes late, not ready to take report, stops to get a coffee and then lallygags with others before being ready for duty. I am sure we can all bring somebody to mind that fits this description.
    This person also tends to ask a thousand questions before being satisfied.

    Companies, who do not utilize the point system, will have other monitoring systems in place. They will have a clear structure of when to speak to an employee regarding tardiness and call offs. This can be looked at six monthly or yearly, they will allow so many call offs within a period of time, before talking to an employee and giving verbal warnings, then written then termination. As I stated before termination for being tardy and calling off can be a nice clear cut way of getting rid of an unsuitable employee.

    My recommendation, for those of you who are genuinely unwell, visit your GP and get written documentation of your illness, this can support your cause. If you call off frequently because that is your practice-be aware you are being watched and if your practice is less than desirable-time keeping and sick days could be your downfall.

    Of course FMLA is a wonderful thing, but you are only eligible to receive it after 12 months of employment within your company.

    Remember the time clock can be your friend or your enemy, use it wisely! If you forget to clock in regularly you can be penalized, if you clock in early too many times a week then you can be penalized, if you clock out late more than 7-10 minutes (dependent on company policy) on a frequent basis you can be penalized. Employees do not want poor time management employees making overtime dollars at their expense.

    Please note I am not talking about the times of emergency which cause you to clock out late because a patient care situation occurs and you simply cannot walk away, I am talking about the employee who on a daily basis clocks in early and out late.
    Last edit by madwife2002 on Nov 30, '13
    Emergent, Carrie RN, DawnJ, and 5 others like this.

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    About madwife2002, BSN, RN

    madwife2002 has '24' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'RN, RM, BSN'. From 'Ohio'; Joined Jan '05; Posts: 9,547; Likes: 5,271.

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    14 Comments so far...

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    This is a good article. Sadly, it points out why so many of us are just burned out, very tired of the whole "can't win" situation we have to live with.

    At most jobs, you are given a certain number of days off each year, often less than 2 days per month. These days must cover sick time, vacation time, holidays, and personal/family emergencies. Only God can help you if you have other than perfect health, your car, kids, appliances, roof, and so forth give you any trouble, and your life is not in perfect working order.

    Several of the staff I work with are quite good with patients and are enjoyable to work with. A number of the people I work with are negative. There is one person in particular who likes to start rumors and threatens to write up and does complain about others to the bosses - unwarranted complaints. I keep hoping she'll be abducted by a UFO or something similar.

    But the main issues are the nit picking about being a minute early or late and the way workers are treated if they have too many rainy days. I'm not talking about staff with irresponsible behavior or an immature attitude about work responsibilities. I'm talking about things like major illness, major losses in life, major problems that come, against our wishes, and must be dealt with.

    The trouble is, we deal with lives and it's 24/7/365, so a certain regimentation is necessary. I don't think it need be as stringent as clocking in and out within a certain number of seconds or minutes. And a full-time worker needs more time off for personal matters/vacation/etc.

    Today's work environment is cruel, very strict, and all about money. Those here who are younger don't remember how it used to be. We elders, though, remember and weep for those bygone days and ways when we had time to actually give good care to our patients and felt appreciated by our employers.
    Last edit by Kooky Korky on Nov 29, '13
    brandy1017 and madwife2002 like this.
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    Where can I find the previous 2? Maybe a running list at the end of the article or link plz. good read!
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    madwife2002's Nursing Blog - Nursing community for nurses

    Here is a link to my other articles-thank you
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    It's hard to believe nurses are professionals when we are subjected to time clocks and God forbid if we punch in even a minute late! Ridiculous! How many people are working off the clock over fear and threats re overtime! I refuse to work off the clock. I do my best to get out on time, heck because after 1
    kungpoopanda likes this.
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    You know I audited 6 of my facilities this month and all dietitians said they worked off the clock! It is unreal
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    One of the most distressing things for a manager is the prospect of terminating an otherwise excellent employee for time and attendance issues.

    While the point system isn't universal, there is some sort of tally system, and it is every persons responsibility to know what that policy is. But most system will value some call ins as more significant than others. Calling in the day before/day after a scheduled vacation, or calling off on a day we wouldn't let you have off, are all writable.
    You almost always have some sort of a step system, and it may require 5 or more absences in a year before triggering, but once you on on that first step, things can move along quickly, so choose your call-ins carefully.
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    At one of my jobs, if you are even one minute late, it is considered an absence.

    I've already made up my mind. I plan on quitting after this semester. If I'm going to be considered absent for clocking in one minute late, i might as well go home.
    brandy1017 and madwife2002 like this.
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    Quote from ThePrincessBride
    ....I plan on quitting after this semester. If I'm going to be considered absent for clocking in one minute late, i might as well go home.
    This is not the desired result of attendance policies however, this is what happens. I get it, if I was being penalized as a call out for 1 minute, I might as well not go.

    Rather than quitting have you considered proposing to management to modify this practice. Asking them to write into the policy a more lenient process, such as a person is tardy for the first hour or even first 2 hours.
    Things can happen as we are trying to get out the door, that can delay us from getting to work on time. It behooves an employer to work with us.
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    "Frustration develops when waiting to go home and a co-worker arrives a few minutes late, not ready to take report, stops to get a coffee and then lallygags with others before being ready for duty..... [AND] if you clock out late more than 7-10 minutes (dependent on company policy) on a frequent basis you can be penalized."

    This is absolutely a management issue. If there was a nurse who came in late and delayed me from giving report. Fine. That is on her but do not let it land on you.
    After you give report, create an email to your manager stating why you are late leaving. The email does not need to blame or condone, just simply state something like-- My shift ended at 7:30pm, however I was unable to clock out until 7:55, as the night nurse was unable to receive report until that time.
    If this happens once a month or once a week, send the email.
    madwife2002 likes this.

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