Crackdown threatened on malingering pubes

johnboy 30 December 2013 48

The Australian is running with glee on news of a crackdown on sickies in the public service:

Senator Eric Abetz, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, said “taxpayers are entitled to expect that their money is spent efficiently and effectively, with minimum waste on excessive sick leave”.

“Managing unscheduled absence is a critical issue for the Australian Public Service and is being addressed at the highest levels of the service,” Senator Abetz told The Australian. “Where agencies or departments have problems in this regard, agency heads should be taking steps to reduce sick rates.”


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48 Responses to Crackdown threatened on malingering pubes
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DrKoresh DrKoresh 9:39 am 02 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

chilli said :

Thank God, too I was in the public sector by then, because my previous private sector job didn’t include any sick leave entitlements (my employer helpfully categorizing me as ‘casual’ even though I had the same set shifts for 10 years).

Not entirely sure that’s legal. Unions have their uses…

IP

Yeah, but in practice there’s really not much you can do. I was dicked around in a similar fashion by a certain well-known chain of local supamarkets- er, supermarkets rather, and the red tape you have to go through to get any kind of action is mountainous.

watto23 watto23 9:14 am 02 Jan 14

I’ve worked under many private companies with different sick leave schemes.

Where you get 2 weeks a year and it doesn’t accumulate, people made sure they took as much of their 2 weeks each year that they could. ie a sniffle etc. I’m sure some non legitimate sick days as well.
However then I needed ~4 weeks off for surgery and i only had the 2 weeks despite being there for 5 years so i had some unpaid leave plus some of my rec leave. Not a big issue, but in some ways not overly fair either.

I also worked where sick leave was unlimited with medical certificate and (i think consecutive days was limited without evidence/proof why). People there rarely took sick days as they were not a scarce commodity.

Rec leave is a problem, because its an OH&S issue if you don’t take time off during the year. Harder to do in the private sector, because many enforce 2 weeks off at xmas to use up some leave (which i personally hate as i do use my leave for OS travel).

The whole public service has become disconnected from what everyone else has to deal with.
The sooner they freeze wages for a few years and change rules regarding dismissals, the sooner they’ll get to their reduction numbers. No I’m not a liberal work choices fan either, but the APS has swung so far away from that, it needs help swinging back to a more balanced workplace.

chilli chilli 5:45 pm 01 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

chilli said :

IrishPete said :

chilli said :

Sounding more and more like Dickensian England. How old are you?

Being sacked without good reason isn’t legal either, and facing personal unpleasantness with a view to making you “choose” to leave is called constructive dismissal and is also not legal. Any small business owner behaving like that deserves to be drawn over the legal coals. When they stop being just a family business and take on employees, they take on responsibilities to act like a human being.

IP

My personal experience with small businesses was 1980s and 1990s (so, not quite Dickensian unless you’re Gen Z).

While I agree that small business owners should ‘take on responsibilities to act like a human being’, seeking legal redress and being the squeaky wheel winning workplace rights doesn’t exactly endear you to either the owner or, often, to your fellow employees – even if they also benefit. You can be perceived by them as being disloyal and disruptive.

So yes, you may have won entitlements and better conditions, but then you face the prospect of working at close quarters with a boss who (at best) resents you and colleagues who don’t much like you any more.

There are some great things about working in a small business – it can be wonderfully flexible, and there aren’t endless hoops to jump through – but in the end, for me at any rate, to change my conditions I had to change my job.

IrishPete IrishPete 4:36 pm 01 Jan 14

screaming banshee said :

chilli said :

…., in my experience, the reality in a small business is that if an individual employee disturbs the boss’s equilibrium to any great degree doesn’t pull their weight they will either get the sack, or face such personal unpleasantness at work that the employee will usually choose to leave.

One of the chief delights working in the public sector is that you don’t have that kind of crap to contend with to have any work ethic.

Fixed it for you

Clearly someone who has never worked in the public service, to make such sweeping generalisations. Yep, there are some people like that, but there are plenty of them in the private sector too – in banks, shops, car dealerships, real estate agents and on and on.

And please feel free to approach the next police officer, ambulance officer, nurse or paid firefighter you have to deal with, and let them know your opinions about public servants. Because they are public servants too and public opinion of them is generally very very high.

IP

IrishPete IrishPete 4:32 pm 01 Jan 14

chilli said :

IrishPete said :

chilli said :

Thank God, too I was in the public sector by then, because my previous private sector job didn’t include any sick leave entitlements (my employer helpfully categorizing me as ‘casual’ even though I had the same set shifts for 10 years).

Not entirely sure that’s legal. Unions have their uses…

IP

My then employer was apoplectic when a potential new employee suggested a contract (the lack of trust! She didn’t get the job), so God knows what he would’ve done if he’d even smelt a union official within 100 metres of the place.

I have no idea about the legality (as it applied at that time) of long term casual employment but, in my experience, the reality in a small business is that if an individual employee disturbs the boss’s equilibrium to any great degree they will either get the sack, or face such personal unpleasantness at work that the employee will usually choose to leave.

One of the chief delights working in the public sector is that you don’t have that kind of crap to contend with.

Sounding more and more like Dickensian England. How old are you?

Being sacked without good reason isn’t legal either, and facing personal unpleasantness with a view to making you “choose” to leave is called constructive dismissal and is also not legal. Any small business owner behaving like that deserves to be drawn over the legal coals. When they stop being just a family business and take on employees, they take on responsibilities to act like a human being.

IP

chilli chilli 12:11 pm 01 Jan 14

screaming banshee said :

chilli said :

…., in my experience, the reality in a small business is that if an individual employee disturbs the boss’s equilibrium to any great degree doesn’t pull their weight they will either get the sack, or face such personal unpleasantness at work that the employee will usually choose to leave.

One of the chief delights working in the public sector is that you don’t have that kind of crap to contend with to have any work ethic.

Fixed it for you

Hmm. Clearly, giving up cliches wasn’t one of your New Years resolutions.

screaming banshee screaming banshee 9:41 am 01 Jan 14

chilli said :

…., in my experience, the reality in a small business is that if an individual employee disturbs the boss’s equilibrium to any great degree doesn’t pull their weight they will either get the sack, or face such personal unpleasantness at work that the employee will usually choose to leave.

One of the chief delights working in the public sector is that you don’t have that kind of crap to contend with to have any work ethic.

Fixed it for you

chilli chilli 12:08 am 01 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

chilli said :

Thank God, too I was in the public sector by then, because my previous private sector job didn’t include any sick leave entitlements (my employer helpfully categorizing me as ‘casual’ even though I had the same set shifts for 10 years).

Not entirely sure that’s legal. Unions have their uses…

IP

My then employer was apoplectic when a potential new employee suggested a contract (the lack of trust! She didn’t get the job), so God knows what he would’ve done if he’d even smelt a union official within 100 metres of the place.

I have no idea about the legality (as it applied at that time) of long term casual employment but, in my experience, the reality in a small business is that if an individual employee disturbs the boss’s equilibrium to any great degree they will either get the sack, or face such personal unpleasantness at work that the employee will usually choose to leave.

One of the chief delights working in the public sector is that you don’t have that kind of crap to contend with.

EvanJames EvanJames 10:25 pm 31 Dec 13

troll-sniffer said :

A truly dynamic pro-active (yay, managed to get THAT word in!) APS model would be looking long and hard at managers for whom unscheduled absence rates were high, and finding ways to deal with them, even if it meant incompetence in management had to be recognised.

Spot on. If you ever want to know the health of an organisation, maybe as a place to work, look at the staff turnover. And things like absenteeism also tell the tale, but is harder to see from the outside.

Focussing on the so-called “managers” whose staff are leaving or staying away from work would save a lot of trouble and expense. But that would mean using brains and making some effort. so it will never happen. It never has.

JessP JessP 9:39 pm 31 Dec 13

Roundhead89 said :

Sickies? Perish the thought. When I was in Treasury we called them Dodulois – Day Off Due To Lack Of Interest.

I refer to the as ‘eye problems’, as in ‘ I don’t see myself going to work tomorrow……….’

IrishPete IrishPete 9:18 pm 31 Dec 13

chilli said :

Thank God, too I was in the public sector by then, because my previous private sector job didn’t include any sick leave entitlements (my employer helpfully categorizing me as ‘casual’ even though I had the same set shifts for 10 years).

Not entirely sure that’s legal. Unions have their uses…

IP

Aeek Aeek 7:24 pm 31 Dec 13

Last 5 years, I’ve barely taken sick leave let alone without certificate. I’ve taken much more time off in carer’s leave to deal with 2 episodes off my mother losing it. No certificate possible. Lucky me being the next of kin who can travel.

chilli chilli 4:46 pm 31 Dec 13

scoobydoo_1968 said :

the stats are not clear in this data – sickies (personal leave) also includes time off for parents to care for ill children, my experience is other parents don’t keep their kids home when they are sick because their management does not support them to do so, so they send their kids to school sick and hope for the best and than sit by the phone all day at work waiting for the school to call for the child to be collected. Management where I work say we still have a job to do and people with children are becoming less employable because of it

When my eldest was in childcare we had about a 12 month period where he would catch something ghastly about every fortnight. He would need 2 or 3 days at home, and then my partner and/or I would get it and need another 2 or 3 days off. Thank God that period has passed!

Thank God, too I was in the public sector by then, because my previous private sector job didn’t include any sick leave entitlements (my employer helpfully categorizing me as ‘casual’ even though I had the same set shifts for 10 years). I’d have gone broke/got the sack/all of the above if I was still in that job.

Now I probably average 6 – 8 sick days a year – two older kids, both get sick from time to time, one has an ongoing condition that needs specialist treatment in Sydney – and I probably get laid low by lurgies myself for 2 or 3 days a year. There are no ‘sickies’ – I like my job and work hard, but illness isn’t something that can be whisked away by a new policy process.

Hardly seems excessive that everyone employed should have access to these kind of entitlements that give the phrase ‘work-life balance’ some meaning.

caf caf 3:35 pm 31 Dec 13

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

I always thought paying out a portion of the value of unused sick days would have a salutory effect on absenteeism.

James is sick. James is an APS4. James needs the money. James comes to work. Now everybody is sick. Not everybody needs the money. Everybody else goes home. Absenteeism rises.

I assume the suggestion was for the partial value to be paid out on separation, which means that James wouldn’t be expecting to see that money for quite some time (unless he’s already quit, which doesn’t seem likely if he’s in need of money). I think it’s actually quite a clever incentive-compatible idea – the only people likely to come in sick as a result are those nearing retirement, and you could probably avoid that by taking the sick leave balance as at 1 year before separation.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 2:03 pm 31 Dec 13

(Incidentally, loving this XKCD plug-in. ‘Elf-Lord Abetz’ indeed. Tee hee.)

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 2:02 pm 31 Dec 13

banco said :

Making the sick days non-cumulative would make a big change (ie sick days don’t carry over from year to year).

Yes. The big change is that most people would suddenly use all of their leave every year, unscheduled absences would skyrocket, and budgets would tumble because the How Canberrans of the world won’t hand back hundreds of days unpaid when they retire.

I always thought paying out a portion of the value of unused sick days would have a salutory effect on absenteeism.

James is sick. James is an APS4. James needs the money. James comes to work. Now everybody is sick. Not everybody needs the money. Everybody else goes home. Absenteeism rises.

goggles13 goggles13 1:39 pm 31 Dec 13

DrKoresh said :

I sincerely hope they do their due diligence in identifying actual malingerers and don’t paint people with chronic illness or similar with the same brush.

that would be ideal, but very unlikely to happen…..its too hard

banco banco 1:00 pm 31 Dec 13

troll-sniffer said :

One thing about the rate of unscheduled absences in the APS: it can be a very good indicator of morale. In my stints in various departments and directorates etc, it was crystal clear that the mood within a branch or team was a barometer of sick and personal leave stats. Some teams, well managed by competent people (yes, oh doubtful ones, such people can be found within, rare though they may be) had very little absenteeism and one felt that to not turn up was not only wrong, but unfair on the others. In other teams, there was little incentive to not ring in and claim whatever malady could be concocted, partly because it was just getting even with those around who you knew were doing the same thing, and partly because it was one way to pay back incompetence in the management.

But here is another example of the way that public servants live in their own little world. If you take sickies because you don’t like your boss in the private sector you stand a good chance of being fired.

DrKoresh DrKoresh 12:45 pm 31 Dec 13

I sincerely hope they do their due diligence in identifying actual malingerers and don’t paint people with chronic illness or similar with the same brush.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 11:57 am 31 Dec 13

One thing about the rate of unscheduled absences in the APS: it can be a very good indicator of morale. In my stints in various departments and directorates etc, it was crystal clear that the mood within a branch or team was a barometer of sick and personal leave stats. Some teams, well managed by competent people (yes, oh doubtful ones, such people can be found within, rare though they may be) had very little absenteeism and one felt that to not turn up was not only wrong, but unfair on the others. In other teams, there was little incentive to not ring in and claim whatever malady could be concocted, partly because it was just getting even with those around who you knew were doing the same thing, and partly because it was one way to pay back incompetence in the management.

A truly dynamic pro-active (yay, managed to get THAT word in!) APS model would be looking long and hard at managers for whom unscheduled absence rates were high, and finding ways to deal with them, even if it meant incompetence in management had to be recognised. (CASA might then need a Porcine directorate to manage though).

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