VANCOUVER, Sept. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Polling released today by the Hospital
Employees' Union shows one out of three health care workers (33.6 per
cent) report coming to work while experiencing cold or flu symptoms
because of pressure from their boss not to access sick days.
The poll raises serious questions about the government's recent measures
to combat the spread of influenza in B.C.'s health facilities.
Last month, government announced it would require health care workers to
wear surgical masks for the entire flu season if they do receive the
annual flu vaccine.
The government release also notes that health employers are taking other
measures to prevent the spread of influenza to vulnerable populations
including "asking staff to stay home when ill."
But that approach, says HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson,
is at odds with the actions of a number of health authorities, which
have put "attendance management" programs in place that penalize sick
workers for accessing sick leave.
"B.C.'s health employers are using increasingly coercive methods to
reduce the use of sick leave with predictable consequences," says
Pearson. "And those practices contradict other public health
initiatives intended to reduce the spread of the flu virus."
Health authorities' attendance management programs penalize workers who
are deemed to have above-average sick time usage through a range of
measures such as denying access to overtime hours, reducing their hours
of work, and threatening them with dismissal.
HEU is grieving the practice at an arbitration hearing in October on
behalf of the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association. The
outcome will have industry-wide application.
"Employers can't have it both ways. The first line of defense in
reducing the spread of influenza in health facilities needs to be
encouraging workers to stay home when they are sick - not punishing
them for accessing sick leave."
The telephone poll conducted by Viewpoints Research Ltd. sampled 800 HEU
members employed in B.C.'s publicly-funded hospitals, residential care
facilities and other health care sites across the province. The poll
was in the field from August 13—22.
The poll is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of
Have you ever reported to work, even though you were sick with a cold or
the flu, because of pressure from your employer not to access your sick
Yes - 33.6%
No - 63.6%
Don't Know/Refused - 2.8%
SOURCE: Hospital Employees' Union
For further information:
Mike Old, communications director, 604-828-6771 (cell)