Government taking steps to cut employee absenteeism

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on September 6, 2014

Employee absenteeism

©Submitted photo

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.