Your Sick Policy Can Make the Corona Outbreak Worse. Here’s What It Should Look Like

“I can’t use more than 3 ‘unscheduled absences’ in 6 months, or it’s a disciplinary ding. I used up my unscheduled days on sick kids, so when I got sick, I had to wear a mask and come in anyway. I ended up doing chest compressions on my patient while I had a fever.” Andrea, RN.

“We get sick time but can’t use it till all our vacation time is gone, so people come to work sick.  Even if we have a note from the doctor, we still get dinged for it. So many occurrences result in disciplinary action.” Tina, Physical Therapist Assistant.

When people talk about problems with sick time, they often refer to retail and restaurant workers who regularly work part-time at low salaries and have limited to no paid time off. But, Andrea and Tina are licensed, educated professionals, and they have terrible sick policies. Imagine punishing someone who was sick and had a doctor’s note!

Imagine you or your loved one is crashing, and the RN, standing directly over your face is running a fever. Yes, she’s wearing a mask, and yes, she washed her hands, but wouldn’t you feel better if she weren’t sick?

To keep reading, click here: Your Sick Policy Can Make the Corona Outbreak Worse. Here’s What It Should Look Like

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7 thoughts on “Your Sick Policy Can Make the Corona Outbreak Worse. Here’s What It Should Look Like

  1. “… wouldn’t you feel better if she weren’t sick?“

    Yes. I’d feel better if the person treating me is at the peak of health, strength and judgement.

    But mainly, I’d feel better if my health care provider treats its staff decently. How the HECK can you expect your employees to treat your customers well if you treat them like dirt?

    And stories of health care workers whom themselves have poor or no employer-provided healthcare make me see red!

  2. Here’s a bit of a dilemna: minimum staffing requirements by law in health care. What would be a good solution? I know all hospitals have a substantial “on-call” list, but on-call folks can say YES or NO. And, with some state sick leave laws, on-call folks can be called in, say they are sick, then get sick pay and not come in. So, it puts hospitals in a bind. If too many staff call out sick, they cannot get enough people in at the last minute from the on-call pool, and they are required by law to maintain minimum staffing ratios — what’s a good solution? I’d love real ideas to discuss at an upcoming meeting!

    1. For starters, you can have “floaters” People who can work in more than one department. The reality is that if you treat your staff decently, and you have a reasonably large staff, a few people should be out on any given days, so floaters wind up working out well. This is common in pre-school and day care type settings where there are similar staffing requirements.

      Also, by and large, most hospitals are running too lean. The legal staffing requirements are the MINIMUM that you can have and still maintain the most basic patient care. Those minimums are not the optimum. So, a little “over” staff would be a good thing. And it would mean that if someone calls out, you are still in compliance.

      Maybe there are other solutions, but it’s on the employers to figure this out. Especially in a health care setting, forcing sick people to come in to work is simply malpractice.

      1. Thanks. We don’t really have multiple departments other than departments that are completely separate – like a dietary department and a maintenance department. Obviously, someone from dietary cannot act as a nurse. We staff above the minimum levels for most shifts, but due to county contracts, we are restricted in how much we can charge. So, obviously, there are cost constraints mandated by contracts. We’ve had these discussions and so far haven’t found easy answers.

  3. Another aspect to consider is when people do call in sick, we tend to forget about those left on the job. It is great when someone covers for another and gets paid, maybe even overtime. However there should be reward and recognition for a department working short staffed.

  4. Hmm, sounds like Andrea and Tina need to be reported to their respective licensing boards. They are admitting they have compromised patient safety for personal financial benefit!

    1. Wow. That’s your take away? Not that the health systems absence policies are driving undesirable behavior?

      And news flash, a lot of systems with these harsh sick policies ALSO have rules that prevent staff taking unpaid time unless its a documented emergency. I can guarantee you a fever is not considered an emergency.

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