Attendance Control by d7qPyB

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									Attendance Crackdown Underway demands for
documentation rise as management cracks the whip
By Dan Sullivan
Editor
Southwest Michigan Area Local

Postal attendance control watchdogs are making more demands for medical documentation from
Kalamazoo postal workers calling in sick and, in some cases, refusing to accept doctor
statements certifying an employee was unable to work when he called in for sick leave.

This latest attack on workers' sick leave rights follows an earlier edict requiring return-to- work
medical documentation from employees with certain medical conditions before they're allowed
back to work from sick leave.

It's all part of a new attendance control policy in Kalamazoo based on an attendance monitoring
system called Resource Management Data (RMD).

In the first week following the start of the attendance crackdown, management figures showed
sick leave dropping from more than 5 percent to 2.5 percent of scheduled work hours at the
Kalamazoo plant.

The American Postal Workers Union has filed national level grievances over elements of RMD at
the national level, but hasn't publicized the issue in the national tabloid, The American Postal
Worker. The local union is filing grievances on a case-by-case basis when employees are denied
sick leave, required to submit medical documentation or denied the right to return to work after an
absence.

The new policy, which went into effect on May11, requires Kalamazoo postal workers to call an
800 number to report all absences from work. An attendance control supervisor in Grand Rapids
answers the call, pulls up the employee's attendance record on a computer monitor and questions
the employee about the reason for the absence. The attendance control officer also determines
whether or not the employee will be required to provide medical documentation to obtain sick
leave.

Employees who indicate the absence is related to an FMLA condition have been told they can't
return to work without providing medical clearance from a physician if their condition is for
"communicable or contagious diseases, mental and nervous conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular
diseases, or seizure disorders or following hospitalization."

An internal USPS document obtained by the Flash states, "The fact that the employee is under
the protection of FMLA against attendance issues does NOT supersede the basic requirement for
RTW (return-to-work) clearance."

The new policy discriminating against workers with certain medical conditions violates postal
regulations which requires workers to provide return to duty medical documentation only after
extended illness or injury.

Some employees report they have called in sick and weren't hassled by the attendance Gestapo
in Grand Rapids. But others say medical documentation has been demanded when they called in
for more than a single day of sick leave or when they refused to explain their symptoms over the
phone to the attendance bosses.

In one case a tour three worker was told to bring in medical documentation for an absence of one
day. When he turned in a note from his doctor saying he was "unable to work due to medical
condition," local attendance control officer Gerry Reeves rejected the doctor's note as "insufficient
documentation."

Citing a section of the postal Employee and Labor Relations Manual, Reeves told the Flash that
medical documentation must contain information about the nature of the illness sufficient to
indicate the employee was unable to perform his regular duties. In the past, postal supervisors
haven't challenged doctors' opinions stating employees are unable to work.

Local Clerk Craft Director Mark Cornelius says postal bosses are also violating the Privacy Act by
giving attendance control bosses access to employee medical information. President Mickey
Elmore has scheduled a meeting with a local attorney to discuss the union's concerns about
medical privacy rights.

In the meantime, the union is urging all employees who have been ordered to provide return-to-
work medical documentation after an absence to file handicap discrimination complaints through
the EEO process as well as grievances challenging the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of the
new attendance control rules.

The union reminds members they don't have to reveal their symptoms or any medical
diagnosis to any postal supervisor and they shouldn't argue over the phone with the
Grand Rapids Gestapo. Instead, when disputes arise over the attendance control policy,
employees should demand to see a steward.

Union officials are also warning employees not to provide too much medical information
when they call in sick. It's enough to tell the bosses the general nature of your illness -
such as "I have a headache" - and when you expect to return to work.


Dan Sullivan apwuflash@aol.com
Southwest Michigan Area Local
Editor

								
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