RN call outs, how do you handle them?

  1. trying to formulate a policy for those RNs who call out b/c they just don't feel good, or have child care issues. do your managers/charge RNs/clinical coordinators just tell them, "OK!" or do they require some sort of documentation/proof of why they called out? i realize we know how to treat the ave. uri, n/v/d/f, or other viral syndrome and need not to see a pmd. what do you do?

    Carotid
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   palesarah
    we don't have to give "proof", that's insulting. We're not children calling out sick from school, nor as we treated as such. If we call out it's assumed we have a valid reason as we all know how it feels to be left short-staffed or to be asked to come in on a day off to cover for someone. So if we call out, we usually just get an "OK, hope you feel better" etc.
    There are consequences for calling out too much: we recieve a written warning on our 4th occurence and have points taken off our annual eval, after 5 occurences we loose our entire merit increase for the next year.
  4. by   fiestynurse
    Palesarah - that's a pretty harsh sick leave policy. No merit increase after 5 occurences?! Wouldn't get away with that at a unionized facility. Of course, your employer can't count an occurence when it's covered under the Federal Medical Leave Act.(FMLA) Also, a sick leave policy has to be flexible and individualized to the situation or they could end up with an ADA claim.

    How are you going to formulate a policy for nurses who call in because they have child care issues? The best way to resolve this is to build an on-site child care center. Are you going to discipline a working mom because her child care worker cancelled on her? And staying home to care for a sick child could be covered under FMLA.

    You could require a doctor's note after 2 or 3 days of being off sick. And I would probably give verbal or written warnings when call offs become excessive (8-10/yr.) or when I see patterns, such as always calling off sick on weekends or every Monday.
  5. by   canoehead
    I thnk 5 occurances is more than fair. Remember that and occurance could be 3-4 days, or more.
  6. by   Tweety
    We don't have to give a reason. If when I call you don't believe I'm sick enough to stay home that's just too bad

    We're allowed six occurrences within a rolling 12-month period before disciplinary action is taken. After three consequetive days they ask for an MD note before coming back.
  7. by   kmchugh
    First, to the question posed by the OP: I think 3dShiftGuy has given you what appears to be a very fair policy where call in's are concerned. The issue is what is fair, both to the nurse who may be sick, and the unit. All too often, policies that are established are preemptively punitive. These type policies convey to employees that management does not trust them. Management assumes that a nurse who calls off is doing so for some reason other than illness, and therefore a punitive policy must be set so that this type of call off is avoided. The reasoning goes that if someone is facing a punitive measure when they call off, they will only do so when they are "really" sick.

    Policies like these not only don't work, they are demoralizing to the staff. To establish a good relationship, managers must proceed from the assumption that the employees are adults, and will only call in when necessary. Of course, there are some who are less mature, and will take advantage of such a policy, and this is where the manager earns his/her money. These people must be dealt with on an individual basis. Punishing the entire group for the potential actions of a very few will cause your good people to leave as soon as anything better comes along.

    Kevin McHugh
  8. by   KMSRN
    Quote from fiestynurse
    Palesarah - that's a pretty harsh sick leave policy. No merit increase after 5 occurences?! Wouldn't get away with that at a unionized facility. Of course, your employer can't count an occurence when it's covered under the Federal Medical Leave Act.(FMLA) Also, a sick leave policy has to be flexible and individualized to the situation or they could end up with an ADA claim.

    How are you going to formulate a policy for nurses who call in because they have child care issues? The best way to resolve this is to build an on-site child care center. Are you going to discipline a working mom because her child care worker cancelled on her? And staying home to care for a sick child could be covered under FMLA.

    You could require a doctor's note after 2 or 3 days of being off sick. And I would probably give verbal or written warnings when call offs become excessive (8-10/yr.) or when I see patterns, such as always calling off sick on weekends or every Monday.
    5-6 days should be more than plenty for a reasonably healthy person. If you have to call our sick more than that, maybe you're not well enough to work full time. As far as child care goes, that is the responsibility of the parent, not the employer. And it is certainly not the responsibility of co-workers to pick up the slack. When you are being interviewed for a job you can't be asked about child care arrangements because it is assume that you are professional and have dealt with these issue adequately.
  9. by   Blackcat99
    At the nursing home I worked at it was pure discrimination. It was OK for LPN's and RN's to call in for any reason. However, if a CNA tried to call in sick they were required to prove it The CNA would have to come in and have their vital signs checked by a nurse. If their vital signs were normal they were expected to work.
  10. by   fiestynurse
    The last hospital that I worked at for 12 years had on-site childcare. I also had a very understanding Nursing Director. One day they needed an extra nurse and the child care Center was full - they sent a volunteer "pink" lady out to my house to watch my kid until my husband got home from work. You can imagine how surprised my husband was to find a little old lady dressed in a pink smock sitting in his living room when he came home. Other times I could bring my kids in to work for awhile, as long as they sat in the lounge or an empty room and watched T.V. and stayed out of trouble. My fellow nurses were very accomodating. When my kids got older and other nurses with small children needed me to cover for them I returned the favor.

    Also, it was understood that working in a hospital, is not only stressful, but exposes you to many colds and flus. The hospital didn't want you walking around the unit infecting all the patients and other employees. And it was o.k. to take a "mental health" day. One of those "I just can't come to work" or "I just don't feel good" days. Most teachers are allowed 10 sick days in a school year because of the stress of the job and all the sick kids they are exposed to. They use the 5-6 number in the corporate world and that is based on a study that they did on the average sick leave that is considered legitimate. Nurses need more than that!!!

    Luckily, I am a very healthy person and don't ever call in sick. Maybe, once every 2 years. I like to save my sick time up in my PTO bank and use it for a nice long vacation. One of the nice things about a PTO system - it discourages people like me from calling in sick.
  11. by   RNKPCE
    We don't require proof for calling in sick. After 3 days, in one occurrence, but not consecutive( you can have regular days off inbetween) you need a doctors note. That way you can start using ESL(extended sick leave) and if it continues state disability.

    The number of occurrence you can have depends on work status. The higher the work status the more occurences you can have .For instance if you work half time you can have 5 occurrences in a year. Pretty genourous.

    However management is usually too busy to really track these things. There are people who call in more than their allotment and never get counseled. Or there is a pattern of being sick on days off to give a long stretch off or sick only on weekends. I think in our profession you are always going to see that. Also in our profession you can't work with conditions that you might be able to in another job. My friend broke her finger due to a tumor and then had to have surgery on it. She had to wear a dressing and splint and could not wash her hand like we should. She was out for over 4 months because of this.
  12. by   caroladybelle
    A comment:

    If you honestly feel that nurses are calling out for "feel good days", then check the floor for serious morale problems.

    As a traveler, the only two places that I have worked at that had serious "feel good call out" problems (with numerous nurses, not just one or two), were places where the morale was in the toilet. They also fall into the two absolute worst assignments that I have had, and "worst" had to do with management and bureaucracy problems and easily correctable, rather than lack of funds or staff.

    Just an observation from she that works the floor.

    Carolina
  13. by   mattsmom81
    I am frustrated when I see consistent poor work ethic in some of my peers...some just don't bother to show up or even call...some show up every day 30 minutes late....and it frustrates me more when it is tolerated by my management team.

    The sick calls are usually accepted, sick kiddo calls are tolerated too as most of us are moms and dads and can relate. If my coworker is truly sick I understand them calling in...they are putting me and my patients at risk as I see it, so just stay home.

    I sure do tire of management's games : ie 'she called in 30 minutes before shift start so I can't replace her'. Well, call the agencies, call my manager to put on scrubs and get in here!!!!! They are just manipulating us, IMO.

    This happens more often on days...a nurse wakes up at 530 am and realizes she's running a fever of 102 and so calls in. If it hasn't kept her up all night she wouldn't know......so I can understand that, unless she does this every 6th shift or so.

    Gotta add this: I am tired of ill appearing nurses coughing and hacking germs all over me at the nursing station during cold and flu season...it keeps the viruses circulating. Just stay home!!!!
  14. by   Caligurl
    In the facility I worked in, I have been sick almost constantly since Nov 2003 and right now as well. I have never made it a habbit to call off just because I don't feel like going to work but I was written up recently because they decided to "crack down on call offs". I called in twice in one week and it wasn't a good thing but I told my boss, "Look, if I come in, it's going to spread to my coworkers and residents and I don't want that on my shoulders." She said fine.

    After I came back to work, I was still feeling ill but I went in anyway and my boss talked to me about calling off then wrote me up the next day!!!!

    My hall partner who had never called off was forced to come in a PROVE to the nurses that she was sick. After that incident, she gave her 2 week notice and walked out.

    I have seen charge nurses call off all the time but because they're short on nurses, they get away with it. Whereas, we are short even more on the CNA's but get reprimanded all the time.

    On top of that, I see nothing being done about some of the CNAs whose work is just crap. They have a reputation, have had many complaints against them and yet are still employed. I guess it's more important to have a crappy work ethic than a write up for call offs. Not only that but there are many CNAs and CN's who call off every day after payday to go shopping and those days we are the most short staffed and yet nothing is done about it.:angryfire

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