We object to the recent attacks on paid sick leave by top management at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).
Paid sick leave should be extended to all workers in Wisconsin. The state's flagship health organization should be encouraging reasonable paid sick leave for all workplaces, and not restricting its own employees' access to paid sick leave that has been in place for decades.
DHS introduced these new work rules just before Thanksgiving and made them effective in early December 2012 with no worker input. DHS's recent actions to put restrictions on sick leave just as cold and flu season began is irresponsible.
DHS new work rules run directly counter to its mission that includes "the protection and promotion of the health and safety of the people of Wisconsin." DHS employees are being disciplined for using earned sick leave for legitimate illnesses. After using a few sick days, employees can only tap their remaining earned sick leave balance by observing onerous and costly same-day doctor visit requirements.
These new work rules will cause more employees to come to work sick. Employee job transfer rights are being abridged. Employees are now forbidden to use earned vacation leave to cover certain absences that have been allowed in the past. Asking for vacation leave for more than two weeks is grounds for employee reassignment. Inflexible attendance policies are being imposed on employees regardless of the operational requirements of the work or the professional office setting.
These new policies are particularly detrimental to women, parents, single parents and those with elder care obligations. We are concerned about the productivity and morale effects of these policies. The taxpayer will be burdened by overloading the health care system with frivolous visits to doctor’s offices. It will be more difficult to recruit quality people as employees for DHS. The new job transfer policy reverses efforts to improve the skills, job satisfaction and productivity of the DHS workforce. These rules are particularly arbitrary because they do not apply at all to the large share of contract employees who often work side-by-side with state employees at DHS.
Stop the attacks on sick leave at the Wisconsin DHS!
1 West Wilson Committee