Excessive absenteeism: when enough is enough
Employers often wonder when an employee’s “innocent” or no-fault absences reach a level that warrants termination. Can these employees ever be fired? Yes, is the answer from one New Brunswick labour arbitrator.
Facts about the case
A nurse at a regional hospital in New Brunswick was excessively absent over a 24 year period. The employer made repeated efforts to address her absenteeism, including ongoing letters and meetings under an attendance management program. The grievor’s random, yet continual absences, caused a negative impact on patients, her co-workers and the employer. The employer issued a written reprimand, raised the threat of suspension and threats of dismissal from 2005 to 2010.
Among its efforts, the employer reduced the nurse’s hours on a temporary basis to a level of hours that reflected her actual attendance, which was significantly lower than her co-workers. The employer also moved her to another department with regular day hours in the hopes that the grievor’s attendance would improve.
Despite these efforts and the grievor’s ongoing promises of improved attendance, the nurse’s attendance didn’t improve.
What did the company do, and what can other employers learn? Read more