Trenton Metro Area Local
American Postal Workers Union
President Bill Lewis
Sandy Schleher, Clerk Craft Director
Family Leave Coordinator
Metro Area Local
The Central New Jersey District has recently instituted a
new program for attendance control that is inconsistent with the Employee and
Labor Relations Manual and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Specifically, they have directed their field Supervisors to utilize a new
option/feature in the eRMS system called “deems desirable” for
absences of 3 days or less in an attempt to reduce sick leave usage.
Management at the local level asserts that this new tool
can be utilized to protect the interests of the Postal Service, and has
instituted its usage as a new element of their attendance policy when they
perceive an employee is abusing their sick leave.
Management merely flips a switch in the eRMS system that will activate
the voice recognition toll free hotline to advise you when you call off sick
that you will be required to submit medical documentation to support your sick
leave request for absences of 3 days or less.
Generally, sick leave requests of 3 days or less have not
required the submission of medical and/or acceptable documentation for approval
of paid leave. However, when a
supervisor has reason to believe an employee may be abusing their sick leave, in
accordance with the Employee and Labor Relations Manual, Management has the
option of placing an employee on a “Restricted Sick Leave List”, which would
require the employee to submit medical evidence for each and every sick leave
request, including absences of 3 days or less.
APWU Industrial Relations Director Greg Bell sought
clarification in August of 2007 concerning the use of the “deems
desirable” option from Headquarters Manager John Dockins (see
attached), who responded that there was no dispute or disagreement between the
parties as it pertains to the conditions under which an employee may be required
to submit medical documentation or other acceptable evidence for periods of
absence of 3 days or less.
However, The Local Union was forced to initiate a class
action grievance in October 2007 when the Central New Jersey Family Medical
Leave Coordinator sent a directive instructing supervisor’s
to utilize the “deems desirable” feature/option in eRMS.
This grievance was denied at the various steps of the
grievance/arbitration process, and will eventually be scheduled for Arbitration.
Subsequently, the Thanksgiving Day Holiday saw the
wholesale utilization of this option by Customer Service Supervisors, who have
continued to expand the use of this function, in spite of the understanding of
the parties at Headquarters level.
Managements Leave Control Instructions to the field include
the following list of indicators of possible abuse of sick leave, hence the
possible utilization of “deems desirable”:
|The first workday following a pay-day|
|Before or after a scheduled day off|
|On the same calendar day of the week|
|Before or after a holiday|
|When workload is heaviest|
|When overtime is required|
|During inclement weather|
|On a day of public events and/or ball games|
|On a day the working spouse has the day off or vacation|
|When previously refused a day off|
|When an undesirable job is to be performed|
|When scheduled to work weekends or holidays|
|Excessive intermittent absences of short duration|
|Any time there is insufficient justification|
|The beginning of hunting season|
|The attendance at Union meetings/functions|
If you find your Supervisor is utilizing the deems
desirable option and denying you paid leave for sick leave absences of 3 days or
less, or if you are denied annual leave for a legitimate emergency, please
contact your local steward so they can initiate an investigation to determine
whether or not your supervisors actions are consistent with the provisions of
the Collective Bargaining Agreement.