Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Butler nursing workers face tougher sick policy



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - A new three-year contract agreement between the county and 120 employees of the Butler County Care Facility contains a tougher sickness policy aimed at reducing the facility's absenteeism.

According to terms of the contract, which the county commissioners approved on Monday, employees can be fired if they exceed as few as 10 days of absence. But that limit could be stretched if some of the days absent are covered by a doctor's note or the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

The average employee represented by the United Steel Workers of America at the county-owned, 121-bed skilled-care nursing home misses 17 days of work a year, said Doug Duckett, county personnel director.

The union members include nursing assistants, laundry workers, homemaker aides, maintenance workers and clerical staff. The union approved the contract Saturday.

The high absenteeism rate has forced the Care Facility, located in Hamilton, to pay excessive overtime to employees and to pay other agencies for emergency assistance, Duckett said.

"It's a big problem," he said. "To the union's credit, they realized something needed to be done about this issue."

The new absenteeism policy permits firing of employees if they accumulate 10 points or more in a year. In general, a point is charged to an employee for each day of absence that is not covered by the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

The three-year contract provides employees with 3 percent raises each year.

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E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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