Sick call policy - page 2

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   lindalee
    There are other ways to handle excessive sick calls and no need to punish everyone who gets sick. Give me a break. I rarely call in sick, but if I do I sure don't plan to be punished and would really develop a bad attitude if I were forced to make up my sick day. Sick time is a benefit of your employment and you have a right to use it when it is necessary. I no longer work weekends, I took my current position with that as a criteria. (I worked every other weekend and holidays for 32 years and paid my dues) Nurses are exposed to illness constantly and will get sick. It is a hazard of the job. While I agree that 5 weekends out of ten is excessive, you must realize that people will get sick and do not deserve to be punished for that. I think the mental stress of nursing and the difficult physical work at times can cause physical/mental illness. Over work and excessive demands on us is a major problem in this profession and that alone is enough to cause illness. Please try to be supportive of your fellow nurses. I am sorry you have to pick up the slack but perhaps you were blessed with a very strong constitution and don't get sick. Wish that were the case for everyone but it isn't so. Children do get sick and their parents do have to take care of them. In our culture unfortunately there are many parents raising children alone without a support system. Would you have them leave an ill child unattended so they can work? You have no children and probably have never been in that position. My son was a severe asthmatic and let me tell you; sometimes I simply had to be at home. He is grown now and I am rarely absent or ill from work, but that wasn't the case when he was younger. You are allowed to use 1/2 of your sick time for an ill child or family member without fear of reprisal. (This is either federal law or California law, I am unsure) You are also entitled to family leave if you need it. This is federal law. Family leave can be used one day at a time if necessary once the paper work is completed. You must first take care of your personal family; your job should always come second. Sorry, this really made me angry. I agree that people are out there whom do abuse sick time and party---those people need to be punished but that is rarely the case in my 35 years of nursing. I think that the nurse needs to be respected as a professional, if she says she needs to care for her child/family member or is sick that day she should be believed. We trust her judgment with other peoples' lives; do we think it is any different with her own life or her families? Jobs are easy to find and we need to take care of our own first. I personally would not work for a manager with this attitude.
  2. by   RNforLongTime
    Originally posted by Rustyhammer
    How dare ANY nurse call in for ANY reason!
    We are not allowed to be sick or allow our kids to catch the chicken pox or anything else.
    You are nurses! Now get back to work before something else gets taken away or maybe I'll have to note that sick call on your eval.
    Anything to avoid making administration do a med pass.
    Ditto to what Rusty said! Sure there are days when I need a 'mental health' day but if I am sick, I'm sick! No nurse should have to work when sick as this jeopradizes the health of their patients and is unethical. I had an instructor in Nursing School that would admonish us if we came to clinicals with as much as a sniffle. She claimed that coming to clinical sick puts our patients at risk and she 's right! But we do it because we don't want to burden our co-workers.

    Sure there are alwyas going to be those that abuse the policy and call off on weekends but for those of us that don't it's not fair for us to be punished for the actions of a few.
  3. by   fergus51
    Lindalee, I have nothing against a nurse staying home when a child is sick or when she is sick. NOTHING. I just don't see the problem with them getting another weekend shift scheduled later on (not in addition to an already full time schedule, but instead of a mon-thurs rotation they could do thurs-sun or something).

    Like I said, I volunteer for nights and weekends BECAUSE I sympathize with a mother who wants to spend time with her kids, but that doesn't mean I am willing to work every weekend and always shortstaffed, which has been happening lately. I usually work at least 3 weekends a month. I pull my weight and I don't think it's too much to expect other nurses to do the same. When they agreed to work here, they agreed to work weekends too, and I don't think calling off every second weekend is acceptable because I don't believe that they're sick at all, especially not when I get to hear about her weekend later!

    Smilingblueyes, I wasn't insinuating you coincidentally get sick. I don't even know you. But there are a lot of nurses I know who never get sick on day shifts between Monday and Thursday. I am talking about them. One has missed every second weekend for the last six months (She is only scheduled to work every second weekend, which gives her a 100% weekend call off rate). I don't believe it is a coincidence, and I won't apologize for that.

    No, I don't want to see others punished for her behavior, but something has to be done about it and she isn't the only one. We recently got a memo stating that we are obligated to work the hours we agreed to in our contract when we accepted the job. I was angry that I got that memo because I only call off when I am sick, which isn't that often, but I understand why they have to send it out. What are they supposed to do when staffing is fine Monday to Thurs and SUCKS every weekend? We are a union shop and don't have the option of increasing the weekend diff, or hiring agency or instituting a Baylor program. So what's left?
  4. by   fergus51
    Ok, and just so I don't sound like I am working in some dungeon, I should say our NM is very open to working around shift problems. A lot of mothers on the unit are allowed to work more of their weekends in the summer and on holidays (because their kids are home everyday anyways) and less during the school year. Most of us singles are willing to pick up extra weekends to help them out, and some among us have even started sharing child (and dog) care so that the babysitter factor doesn't keep anyone from work. I spend the night at one good friend's house whenever she can't get anyone to watch the kids on an 11-7 shift. She looks after my dog if I have too many days in a row. We all need to do our fair share. My resentment only comes from working with those who seem completely unwilling to do so.
  5. by   kmchugh

    (Unnecessarily rude remark edited out. You don't deserve that.) Sick days are a benefit, along with vacation, etc. Such a policy as this gives the benefit with one hand, then takes it back with the other. Look again at what KlareRN wrote:

    "The catch is that the staff are informed upon hire that when they work the following weekend- it is on the shift where they are needed most- not necessarily the shift they usually work. There is no excuses accepted (i.e. "I don't have a second shift babysitter, etc....). This has helped with call ins."

    Tell me what policy could better demonstrate an "I don't care" attitude on the part of management. Klare is telling us this hospital will happily put nurses' children at risk to enforce their policies. "Have to leave your four year old at home alone because you don't have a babysitter? That's too bad. He should have picked a Mommy who wasn't a nurse. But we are not about to do anything to help you out. Just be here when we tell you. Or don't ever use the sick days benefit we give you." Given the current nursing shortage, any nurse who puts up with such nonsense is a fool. Once again, management telling us "the beatings will continue until morale improves." Were I still a staff nurse, when a policy such as this came out, I'd write a letter of resignation, and have my nurse manager come with me when I presented the letter to the chief nursing officer. And I'd have a better job within an hour of leaving the facility. Probably before that, if I looked for 15 minutes prior to handing in the letter.

    Kevin McHugh
    Last edit by kmchugh on Jun 23, '02
  6. by   fergus51
    Kevin, like I said about a million times (okay, 3 or 4), I don't have a problem with nurses legitimately using sick days. I don't. At all. Am I being clear? I am trying

    I appreciate what you are saying. I don't think nurses can or should be made to work more than full time by forcing them to work a weekend on top of their normal shifts to make up for sick time used on weekends. That's dumb and not allowed in our contract. I just don't see anything wrong with that person having to make it up by working more weekends in the next schedule I am not for forcing her to abandon her kids or anything, just that she has to take a weekend shift. I think we're arguing over something we don't really disagree that much about. I mean you probably don't think that a nurse should be exempt from nights or weekends because she doesn't feel like it right?

    Everyone who went into nursing knows that they'll have to do a few weekends, because like you have all said, people get sick on weekends too. When they agreed to work on our unit, they agreed to working varied shifts, so few can say that they don't have anyone to look after their kids ever on a weekend or night. If they can't work any weekends then maybe they should work elsewhere like in public health.

    So, one last time: My beef is with the nurses who are unwilling to do weekends, NOT with a mother who stays home with her sick kids. We are discussing different scenarios. Unfortunately, we can't only mandate that the repeat offenders make up their weekends, and not mandate other nurses do the same. That's why I don't have a big problem with making nurses pick up more weekends on the next schedule. Not as OT, and not forcing her to abandon her kids at home, but her having to make it up eventually WHEN SHE IS ABLE TO.

    I don't think wanting adequate staffing when I work so that my liscence isn't at risk is unreasonable. I help other nurses by taking more than my fair share of crap shifts and OT and I expect them to help me out from time to time by showing up for work too. That's all. I don't think that means I don't care about my colleagues, it just means I consider my own needs to be important too. I am getting to the point where I am resentful of these nurses and no longer motivated to go that extra mile for the good of the unit, because they aren't ever doing it for me. Teamwork can't be onesided.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Jun 23, '02
  7. by   kmchugh

    I see your point, and I think in most things we are in agreement. However, I differ with you on a point or two. Whatever the intent, making a nurse pick up a shift later to "make up" for a shift missed when sick is punitive. Many nurses will already do this, because they would rather pick up a shift later rather than have to use PTO to cover the time they took off. My wife has done this (she's a PICU RN). But, when this becomes required by policy, then nurses are being punished for being sick. Most of us have dragged our butts in when ill to help out co-workers. But, most of us have had days where we were simply too sick to work. We should not be penalized for that, and if you read the post by Klare, that is exactly what is happening in her hospital. The nurses are severely penalized for being ill. In her own words "There is no excuses accepted (i.e. "I don't have a second shift babysitter, etc....). This has helped with call ins." Sounds highly punitive to me. How has this policy "helped" with call ins? By forcing nurses to work ill, or work a shift they are not accustomed to (which study after study has demonstrated to be bad for the employee's health.)

    As for nurses not wanting to work weekends, I see both sides of the issue. If a nurse takes a job with weekend shifts included, then that nurse has no right to call in just to get an extra weekend off. Of course that's fair. However, take my family as an example of the flip side. I am a CRNA, and I work A LOT. I had 123 hours on my last two week paycheck. My call schedule is hectic, and we have a two year old. When my wife took her current position shortly after I graduated from CRNA school, she made it clear up front that, while she would work occasional weekends, she wanted no part of regularly scheduled weekends. My call schedule is too hectic. The manager of the PICU accepted this. In return, he has a highly loyal employee, who will often pick up shifts at a moment's notice (if I'm not on call) to help cover short staffing. She also makes sure the weekends she does work are short staffed, so she provides coverage when most needed. Only one employee in the unit has complained about this, and the manager quickly shut her down. His comment was "if she needs to not work regularly scheduled weekends because of her husband's job, that's a pretty small price to pay in return for a nurse of her experience."

    So, as to weekends, you are right, unless the nurse hires in with a different arrangement with management. Other nurses have no right to b**** about that.

    Kevin McHugh
  8. by   oramar
    There was a occurence policy where I used to work. You got an occurence for each sick day and two for a sick day on a weekend or holiday. They did nothing punitive till you got up to 5 in a 12 month period then you went on probation. If you hit 7 you were suspended. By the way consecutive occurences were only counted as one. Also each employee was allowed to be late once a payperiod. Every late punch in after one also counted as an occurence. Here was the good part. Many people came in extra on weekends and holidays. If you did that you could get an occurence removed. That way you did not punish the employee who rarely called off the same as a person who did it all the time.
  9. by   lisamcrn
    One LTC center I worked at had the policy if you called in on a weekend you would be made to work another weekend regardless of shift or floor (this was a 300 bed facility) . They also had a policy for years that after 3 late arrivals you were terminated. I mean people who worked there for 10+ years with a great performance history were fired for this. After a new DON that last policy was pitched. But you were made well aware of the policy and expectation for weekend staffing upon hire.

    My last facility decided to punish all the staff for the behaviors of 3 people routinely calling in. Now while I know these people had good reasons to have to call in with sick children or being ill our facility did not follow our already established policy. So what did the idiots do instead...?? They instituted a New policy...if you called in anytime you would have to make up the day when they wanted you to. Weekday or just didn't matter. This pi**ed me off beyound belief. I missed one scheduled day in 15 months there. My other facility I missed 4 days working full time in 3 years.

    Why punish me when you can't MANAGE or discipline the offenders appropriately??

    Needless to say my last facility has only 4 day nurses left and one noc nurse....leaving our DON working the noc shift and hiring agency-- when they haven't given their staff a raise in 15 months. Why should I suffer thru that?? Of course those great 12 hours shift help out the know scheduling 5 out of 7 days does a lot for a person. (yeah a little resentment noted there!!)

    I'm now working every other weekend in another facility which I actually like...because I'm hardly there to become entagled in all of the crap that comes with the job. My goal is too find a job with normal hours be it nursing or elsewhere. I want to enjoy my life-----I've only got one shot at it! It's too bad I feel this way because I am a darn good dependable nurse.

    The sad thing is that nursing is the most wonderful profession--it's just not people friendly.

  10. by   fergus51
    Exactly Kevin. If a nurse says she won't work weekends when she's hired, I have no problem with that. But, all full time nurses in our unit are required to take some weekends. The part timers aren't always and the casuals never have to.

    I just don't see the problem with working a weekend shift instead of a weekday shift later. It isn't really "making up" for anything, because the nurse still got a sick day off with pay, as sick days should be. It isn't any extra work or extra hours, it just gives those of us who work weekends a bit of help or (GASP!) the chance to have a Friday night off ourselves. The nurse who covers for the sick nurse might also like to have a weekend off later. I don't see how we can rely on those nurses to always do weekends, or they'll be the ones leaving. Doing another weekend shift later is as much about helping your colleagues as about being pushed around by management's evil bad guys. I see the helping your colleagues part a lot more, because I am that colleague.

    This has become a huge issue on our unit with other nurses like myself talking about not doing extra weekend shifts anymore or being as accomodating as we are with holidays. There is no way to solve this unless everyone pitches in a little.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Jun 23, '02
  11. by   Sleepyeyes
    Here's what I never understood.
    As a CNA, I would do mega-overtime. It was NEVER mentioned in my evals; only my absences.

    I never went over my allotted 12 sick days a year, either.

    As a nurse, one LTC facility I worked for was REALLY stuck for New Year's Day am med pass, so I stayed over and did it. Never got any extra money for it; the DON promised extra and the administrator denied the request. (I asked for a lousy $25 extra for the favor, way less than agency would've charged.)

    To top it all off, I worked every holiday for these folks, and never received the promised bonus. Our "Christmas" bonuses still hadn't been given out when I left at the beginning of March.

    My point of course, is that management needs to realize that if they promise money or perks, and then don't deliver, it's demoralizing enough to cause the loss of employees. After all, working for you--or anyone--is a business deal. When it ceases to benefit me, I'm outta there.
  12. by   Huganurse
    If this were any other job besides nursing that employers were doing this to....there would be h#ll to pay. I am certain that anyone else would have the ACLU, the ADA, and any other government law or act on thier side. The policy of making up a sick day as manditory, when the sick time is a benefit, and the manditory shift is used as a punishment, imo intrudes on my right to my day off, spending time with my family, and my right to decide how I'll use my earned and benefitted sick days. there are different sets of rules out there for everyone else, they actually have rights out thier and laws to protect employees, but it's not for nurses it seems. yes, we came in sick to avoid having to work a planned w/e off. And yes, some people even called off b/c they wanted to trade anyways. It was just easier to call off b/c mngt didn't want to change the schedules anyway and would tell us no when we requested switching. The ADA is not just for disabled people, it protects our rights in many other ways and if I had time and $$ I'd find out how the laws r/t this kind of thing. Hey, big city's time for a change.....someone needs to get a good lawyer and sue under the ADA change the way we are treated....cause they sure ain"t listenin'!!!!
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jun 30, '02
  13. by   RNforLongTime
    When you're a staff nurse(Full time) and work every other weekend, then you pretty much have your weekends off planned well in advance. My husband works a Mon thru Fri job. Unfortunately, bedside nursing isn't a weekday 9 to 5 job. So, my weekends off, I spend as much time with him as possible.

    I just don't think that it is fair for me to be punished if I happen to be sick on my weekend to work by being made to make it up the following weekend. Sick days are a benefit of employment and yet we aren't allowed to use them? What's up with that! I once worked at a place that bought back your unused sick time at the end of the year. It made a nice extra for Chritsmas shopping. This same place also gave employees an extra 7.5 hours of pay or you could take an extra day off for each 90 day period that you went without being late or calling off. Now that's what I call an attendance incentive!

    Since then, the places I've worked have absolutely NO incentive for perfect attendance. You get a luncheon and your name in the weekly newsletter! Big DEAL! So, I say when there is no incentive for attendance then WHY NOT CALL OFF!