Sick call policy - page 5

Hi everyone, I am a Nursing Director at a very small rural facility. Our professional staff is also limited, and we do not have a pool to draw from, so when we have sick call ins it really impacts... Read More

  1. by   robynrn2b
    Maybe you live in a fantasy nursing world--I personally don't. We have the "weekend call in procedure." We have to make it up. If we didn't, we would have piles of call-ins!--sad? YES. Fair? NO. Changeable-PROBABLY NOT!! As for "putting up" with the policy, for those of us that live in a small town and need a flexible schedule so they can attend school--THERE IS NO CHOICE!!!! I don't "choose" to put up with this--I have to! And I shoulden't "call myself a nurse?" EXCUUUUSE ME? I worked very hard for my title, thank you very much. How DARE you say that!
  2. by   rstewart
    How timely----the most recent addition to our Communication Book is a copy of our facility's scheduling/staffing policy, all 10 pages of it. Highlighted in yellow was the requirement to work the weekend following a weekend call-off.

    For the public record: The day management attempts to enforce that provision against me is the day I will turn in my notice.

    Indeed, after reading the policy in its entirety I may just "go agency" anyway. I would not be exaggerating if I summarized the 10 pages thusly:
    1) Regardless of the area, shift or pattern of scheduling for which you were hired, we can change that unilaterally.
    2) Full time employment means your minimum commitment to us; Our commitment to you for guarenteed hours is zip .
    3) We have chosen to lump holidays, vacations, personal days, sick days into a single pool; in order to access those days you must have permission. The reasons to deny permission can fill pages. In fact, we don't even really need a specific reason.
    4) One exception to item #3 is time off for illness. While we can't deny requests off for illness, we can discipline you for doing so too late, on the wrong day of the week or excessively.

    I am well aware of the problems management has keeping units staffed----I have been on the management side of things many times in my career. I certainly understand the frustration. But let's be honest here: management brings many of these problems on themselves.

    Facilities with longstanding inability to fill full-time FTEs will open new product lines/units/beds/programs without the slightest thought as to how they will be staffed. Or facilities will force all full time nurses to work 12 hour shifts without any consideration to the effects. (With all things being equal if your staff is now scheduled for 24 hours rather than the previous 16 on their weekends to work you should expect total weekend sick time to increase----and the resultant "holes" are more difficult to fill because they are larger and because many agency nurses don't want to work weekends.)

    Of course there is the fundamental problem----hospitals do not want to pay enough to attract and retain quality full time employees. They become desperate and hire any warm body with a license. (Our hospital is one which actually encouraged potential applicants to apply over the phone in their bathrobes---job offers were promised over the phone.) Just what type of employee might one expect to attract with such tactics?

    My view is if you want loyal, committed employees who will behave professionally and not abuse the employer's resourses then you should be prepared to compensate them adequately and to treat them as professionals. Attempting to manage via a morass of rules/policies will drive more employees to the flexibility offered by agencies.
  3. by   tuni813
    Ours is an unwritten policy, that states if you call in on a weekend you will make it up. Sometimes it may not be the following weekend, since our schedules are made up a month at a time. But you will make it up by the next schedule.
  4. by   deespoohbear
    Our facility has a big problem with weekend call-ins too. 9 times out of 10, it is the same people...VERY frustrating for those of us who come in on the weekends when we are scheduled....OUr floor is usually pretty decent about calling in...the skilled care unit in our facility is another story. Just this last weekend our department had to float out a CNA EVERY shift for that unit....I know people get sick on the weekends, and other things occur in life that are unavoidable.

    My philosophy is to make it worth the employees effort to come in...give a liberal weekend bonus, offer employees DT if they come in on scheduled weekend off....make them feel appreciated...money talks in this world. Period. You could be darn sure I would work more than my fair share of "unscheduled" weekends if I was getting double time...... My Dad used to be a boiler room operator for a major pharmaceutical company. The boiler room ran 24/7/365....The employees got time and a half on Sat, double time on Sundays, and triple time on the major holidays...(including Good Friday and Easter!!)....Calling in his department was unheard of, and if someone did need off trading the shift wasn't a problem. And if something happened such a death in someone's family or some other family emergency, the guys covered it, no questions asked.

    Most of the managers in our facility work a 40 hour week or less...My dayshift manager is out the door at 3:15 everyday....the call schedule is divided 8 ways, so they only have to take call once every 8 weekends....and if they do come in (after begging, pleading, threatening to walk out), you can make darn sure they will take a day off in that pay period "make" up for the difference....I commend you managers who are willing to come in and help when the floor nurses are swamped....it really helps with the morale.....
  5. by   New CCU RN
    I am a Baylor person (36 hrs between Friday and Monday) and where I work, if I call in on one of my shifts, it comes out of the twelve days I allowed to take as vacation time. The rationale is that I called out on a weekend and I can't make it up on the next schedule bc I am only there on the weekend. To me it is unfair bc I am already THERE EVERY WEEKEND. I am someone who never calls in. In the past almost year, I have called in twice. (once for a dental emergency and once bc I couldnt get out of bed and was sick as can be with the flu) However, this policy does make me a little angry bc say I do get sick for a weekend, there goes 1/4 of my vacation time for the whole year. We are given 27 days of PTO, but only allowed to take 12 of them. This is strickly for the Baylor people. Other staff can use all of their PTO. Oh and if we do call in, we also lose the four bonus hrs for working Baylor.

    Although the policy sucks, I am biting the bullet for now so that I can go to school during the week, let the hospital pay to further my education and move onto better things. So, it all works out in the end
  6. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I think if facilities offered things like double or triple time for covering a call in on a weekend, things would be different. If Ford Motor Co. can pay their employees double time and a half to work on weekends, surely hospitals with big budgets can do the same. Oh no I forgot. If they did that the CEO would have a smaller bonus next quarter! D***, he doesn't want to have to miss a Lexus payment!!
    The main problem here is in the BIG management, whether it's a hospital or nursing home, the BIG guys want their profits and the rest of us can go to h*ll in a basket as long they get theirs. I kind of feel sorry for those in lower and middle management in a way, because these big guys are tying their hands, they do what they have to because they're desperate and we all hate them for it.
    And no, I am not management, would NEVER EVER be management! But I think MONEY talks, and if they want staff, they should start talking OUR language!
  7. by   plumrn
    How awful to call in sick, and all you get is, "You know you will have to make it up next weekend?!!" Uncaring and punitive! I had 2 sick days in well over a year, and both were sick family members. I have been very 'lucky', and my colds, and such, fell on my days off!

    If I am sick, I will stay home. I will not make it up another day.
    I don't expect management, or office staff, or anyone else to come in to work Saturday and Sunday if they missed a couple of days thru the week with the flu, either.

    The "business" has to figure out how to best cover legitimate call offs and to counsel those that abuse this benefit. My job is to perform my job to the best of my ability, and I do. I am bone tired and ready for my days off when I am done.

    As a nurse, I work very hard long hours. I am responsible for much more than I can safely handle on an almost daily basis, and the stress is unreal. I am exposed to deadly diseases, and occasionally I am subjected to rude and demeaning medical staff. I work weekends and holidays. That is what I am paid for. I don't want this responsibility every day of my life. Just the days I am responsible for. That is why there is a management team. They don't work the floor, I do. Their job is to staff and otherwise run the units. My job description does not say I have to figure out what happens on the days I am scheduled off or am sick.

    For the record, I do occasionally work for other co-workers when they need a particular day off. I will re-arrange my schedule to satifsy the unit requirements, but it has always been done with my approval and with mutual respect. I am lucky to work for such a facility.

    There should be good incentives for the ones that do want to work their off days. Such as, double pay or decent bonuses.
    There should be agencies to call, in-house pools, or whatever it takes to allow nurses to have their much needed time off. If there is not, nurses will feel abused and burn out and they WILL leave.

    What I am trying to say is, this is a MANAGEMENT problem. Not mine. If you can't staff, then you need to go to YOUR higher ups, and threaten whatever YOU have to, to get the staffing in place you will need when there is an unexpected hole in staffing. Be it agency, pool, or God forbid, "lots of money" to whomever fills the spot at the time of need.

    Nursing has changed thru the years. The idea of double shifts and working days off because you are a "team worker" is all well and good. But, it should be done only IF the person doing it truly WANTS to do it. And you shouldn't be penalized when you are sick.

    I am grateful reading some of the managers responses on this thread. You are truly trying. But, some of the responses leave me dumbfounded and saddened from the lack of respect. My response comes from my own experiences as a nurse for almost 20 years.
  8. by   jlc
    Once again the sole focus is to punish the "offender". The nurse that dared to be sick on a weekend. How can nursing ever hope to recruit new nurses into nursisng with this kind on mentality. If there is a pattern then by all means punish the offenders, but for gosh sakes don't punish everybody. Why not try to make working weekends more attractive. At my hospital they use to pay 2/1-2 pay for working extra weekend shifts. And never had a problem geeting nurses to work extra shifts. Now the nurses must work extra weekends with no compensation, even to having split shifts on weekends. No wonder nurses call off sick. After all even"nurses" have a life outside of the hospital. Please there needs to be some compassion shown by management or the nursing shortage will just keep getting worse. jlc
  9. by   Used and abused
    I have experienced those that needed "mental health days" and they usually fall on a weekend...but hey! we are nurses and human beings and we DO get ill just like our patients! I think an ideal staff would pull to gether and help eachother. I have done that, worked to help cover shifts and given up my weekends to help out. What I found out tho, the management that I worked for didnt give a hoot.
    SO I use that as an example now that I am a manager and remember how I felt . I am new at this but boy, kind words and THANK YOUS go a long way. It is good to respect the people you manage and good to get respect back. That's the only way it works. Occasionally you will have one that doesnt give respect but coworkers learn fast . Evaluations are good for that subject.
  10. by   itsme
    At the facility where I work we are scheduled everyother weekend. We tried the make - up if you call in and we found that at times we would be so short staffed one weekend and way over staffed another. It doesnt work (at least there). how about discipline those who abuse sick time? OF course we had a nurse disciplined for over use of sick time. She had cancer and had to be off for treatments. I thought that was ridiculous to write her up. The best thing we have done was get in house pool. Not all options work in all facilities.
  11. by   angelbear
    I for one get very upset when nurses come to work sick for 2 reasons 1 it is unfair to put the pts at risk of catching whatever it is that the nurse has and 2 I have lupus/fibro and would be very angry if the sick nurse gave me what she had. All that said the policy where I work sucks as we have to make up ANY day we call off unless we have personal hrs to cover it. To me it is cold, heartless and not very smart on the part of management to encourage nurses to come into work while ill. I realize there are plenty that abuse the calling off thing and they are the ones who should be penalized. A point system may help It wouldnt take any time at all to figure out the culprits of abuse and then using the points they could penalized while allowing the truely ill nurses the privelige of being human.
  12. by   altomga
    WOW!!! This is certainly a topic for debate!!! There are sure a lot of ruffled feathers around here....geez! First let me tell you what our policy states. A staff member (means all levels of staff) is supposed to call in 4hrs before their shift is to start (to try to give time for a replacement). If they call in on the weekend they are to make it up the next weekend if there is a hole. This was started because soooo many staff were simply calling out for mental health days! Sometimes in small groups so they could go "out".
    It is very seldom that this get's adhered to, but it does at times. Every staff member knows the policy. We as charge nurses take the sick calls...I don't ask them why they are calling out, they are grown adults and I am not their keeper. But let me say, we all know the chronic ones who call out all the time (no one is sick that often unless they have a chronic illness!!) If you are out for >3 days you are supposed to get a doctors note and go by occupational health to get cleared. If you want a weekend off or some certain day off that you scheduled yourself (we have self scheduling) it is not a big deal; you find someone to switch with and the charge nurse can validate it for you with their initials. You don't have to go through management for it. This is supposed to help stop people from calling out (and does to some extent)
    Do I personally have a problem with the sick policy..No not exactly. If you are sick; you are sick...it is there to deter those from just simply not wanting to work. We aren't sticklers to the covering the next weekend thing, those that are truely sick usually ask if there is a hold they can cover later in the week anyway to keep their pay (especially since if you are <5yrs employement they take away the first 8hrs of time..THAT I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH!!)
    I personally have only called out 2 days in 5 yrs of employment at my facility. That's not to get kudo's; I just don't believe in leaving my co-workers short just b/c I don't want to work one night. The 2 days I did call out I was extremely ill with a stomach thing going around at the time. My manager had already put my sick time in for me before I came back and made the comment "boy you really must have been sick to call out b/c you never call out". I believe in work ethics, it is your job, you made a committment to work, you should be there. I do have kids (3 of them) and do not have a problem for moms/dads calling out b/c their kids are sick, I fortunately have a husband who stays home with the children. (Not that the MOM part isn't saying I should stay home myself)..
    The ANM is supposedly starting to penalize the chronic call out peope and the chronic tardy people at work. It will (supposed to at least) start reflecting on their evaluations.
    No one penalizes anyone for being actually SICK..look what we work with; we aren't going to get sick once in awhile?...We need to concentrate on the others; and hopefully that is occuring.
  13. by   MandyInMS
    Originally posted by itsme
    At the facility where I work we are scheduled everyother weekend. We tried the make - up if you call in and we found that at times we would be so short staffed one weekend and way over staffed another. It doesnt work (at least there). how about discipline those who abuse sick time? OF course we had a nurse disciplined for over use of sick time. She had cancer and had to be off for treatments. I thought that was ridiculous to write her up. The best thing we have done was get in house pool. Not all options work in all facilities.
    Tell me I'm reading this wrong...the nurse was disciplined for taking off sick days because she has cancer????that is ******* unreal! and we wonder why there's such a shortage...go figure

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