Government taking steps to cut employee absenteeism

Teresa Wright
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Employee absenteeism

Health care workers across Prince Edward Island are being asked to take part in sessions aimed at reducing the number of employee sick days.

Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Richard Wedge says a new attendance management program is being rolled out to help all Health P.E.I. staff know what resources are available to help them deal with problems or issues that may be interfering with their jobs.

“There are some staff who are struggling with their ability to come to work on a regular basis, for a variety of reasons, most of them of course are legitimate,” he said.

“We just want to make sure staff are aware of what resources are available if they’re having issues, through the employee assistance programs or counselling, and that we will help them out.”

The issue of public sector absenteeism has been a topic of debate, especially regarding federal employees.

In Ottawa, federal Treasury Board President Tony Clement has been pushing for an overhaul of the federal employee benefits system.

While this has not been a major issue of debate on the Island, as the largest employer in P.E.I., the provincial government is always dealing with absentee issues, Wedge said.

That’s why they have begun the province wide attendance management program.

It is designed to achieve and maintain regular attendance at work.

“Obviously we have a lot of staff who are having issues in being able to attend work and we want to make sure that when they come to work, they’re fully prepared to work.”

Wedge said there were no health centres in particular where absenteeism is an issue, and said patient care is not at risk. But he did say employees who have to pick up the slack for those who do not come to work are the ones who end up bearing the burden.

“When somebody is not able to come to work on a regular basis for a variety of reasons, that pushes the workload onto their colleagues, because the patients are still needing to be seen,” Wedge said.

“When you have front-line services like that, you have to make sure you’re both meeting the employees’ needs plus meeting the expectations of the patients.”

Mona O’Shea, president of the P.E.I. Nurses Union, declined to comment on this story, saying the union will wait and see if the new attendance management program negatively impacts any of her members.

Organizations: Treasury Board, P.E.I. Nurses Union

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • tamara
    November 07, 2014 - 12:18

    I was recently diagnosed with an illness. It interferes with my day to day life. I needed to take a couple weeks off work to get better and to allow my medication to set in. Before band I was missing work because my illness went undiagnosed for months and months..even after several tests and doctor visits. So am I not deserving of employment because I missed work too? Everyone has a different situation. Be careful what you say about others as one day YOU might be the one who is out of work due to an illness. Does that make any of YOU less worthy of your job?

  • Disappointed
    September 08, 2014 - 19:33

    I work in the public health care and have had some pretty bad ongoing things happen in my life and was very greatful to have the previledge of sicktime and feel very sad for others who do not. I Do not hink that gives our employers the right to threaten job loss and pointing fingers with the well intended we can fire you threats. Lol our government should try treating people with respect and dignity and perhaps enlighten people with a little empathy for what some people have to endure. I have heard of many private companies doing far more for there staff. I have doctors notes and it did not stop them from threatening my job. Keep up the good work. Oh and by program they mean documentation that they tried. Union didn't help. HUMAN RIGHTS people.

  • reality
    September 07, 2014 - 11:57

    offer an incentive for those who do not take sick leave -eg -when you retire $50. for each sick day you have still available

  • ns
    September 07, 2014 - 09:28

    agree,i worked 20 years for health pei,retired last October leaving unused 800h of accumulated sick time,but some of my coworkers are sick 1-2 days every week,no consequences for them,thanks

  • reality
    September 07, 2014 - 08:21

    people today don't have a clue what "real stress" is -- if things are not going the way they want ,they can't cope so they are "stressed out "--they are just too weak !!! no backbone !!

  • ed
    September 07, 2014 - 07:33

    I think it is great that government jobs exist and offer great benefits, but sometimes if you give too much people will take too much. Having never worked in government myself, I know many whom have and many whom have taken sick days just because they have them and they can. My mother has worked in nursing for many years and has an ungodly amount of sick days something like a years worth. Granted, she works very hard, but over a year in sick time alone + 12 weeks holiday is just crazy compared to what you'd find in the private sector.

    • Bull!!!
      September 07, 2014 - 12:14

      Twelve weeks holidays working for the Provincial Government? I think it would be great if you could either give us some more information to substantiate your wild claim or admit your are not telling the truth so people can ignore your comment.

  • Liberal Dong
    September 07, 2014 - 07:01

    This should include all government departments not just health,the health departament can be really stressful dealings with sick patient all the time. All government departments should be looked at for taking a sick day to add to a long weekend its being done in all departamental I hear stores about the long weekend thing all the time,do the employees want their jobs or not,there is alot of people unemployed right now,and dont depend on the union to help its just a laughing stock,enough said.

  • david
    September 06, 2014 - 16:33

    Limit the number of sick days person has to one week per year and any additional neecd3ed then the employee starts using holidays. Somehow I expect if Government employees had to start using their holidays their sick day offs would quickly decline.

    • Elaine
      September 07, 2014 - 00:37

      Many employees go to walk in clinics instead of making normal doctor appointments. For me, I use vacation many times instead of sick time and I work late if I do miss any time. This article is targeting those with chronic illnesses

  • L
    September 06, 2014 - 16:18

    Maybe the govn should start giving their jobs to people that actually want and deserve them !!

    • huh
      September 07, 2014 - 07:17

      "people that actually want and deserve them"? Who exactly are you referring to?

  • don
    September 06, 2014 - 13:05

    stop giving them sick days with pay. and if they take more then allowed they must have a doc's paper to get back to work. but you allow it due to the dumb union contracts. so the government has to sick back and shut up.

  • Interested Islander
    September 06, 2014 - 12:26

    Maybe if there was better management there would be less stress related illnesses in Health PEI.

    • health care wirker
      September 07, 2014 - 16:24

      Maybe the government should take a HARD look at them selves for a change! !! Stop trying to save money...and yes..thats all its about people!..and start cutting some of their perks!!!!!! Leave the hard working front line staff ALONE! !!!