Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 15, 2014

RUSS adopts new absenteeism policy

Nov 15, 2012

By TRISHA PHELPS

Mt. Pleasant News

Have you ever thought texting was an appropriate way to inform your employer that you wouldn’t be at work that day?

The Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) wants to make sure its employees know that it is not acceptable.

At the Nov. 14 RUSS meeting, the board of directors finalized and approved a call-in procedure policy for their employees.

“With the new technology, we need to have something in place. Emails and text messaging and stuff like that isn’t as usual. You may text somebody and an hour or two later they receive it. So I want to make sure if someone is calling in that we have some type of notification via phone,” said Bruce Hudson, RUSS executive director. “A phone call is not hard.”

Hudson stressed the importance of an employee notifying RUSS via phone call as it is more dependable than an email or a text message.

The way the new policy reads is that an employee must call in by phone before 9 a.m. to give notification that they will not be at work that day. If there is no phone call the first time the employee will get a verbal warning, the second time is a written warning and the third time results in termination.

The board did not previously have a policy in place.

The RUSS board was somewhat divided on how long of a period of time should elapse before employees can start over with a verbal warning.

“I agree we need a policy, but I just don’t think the third time in a lifetime of working for RUSS is fair,” said Marvin Phillips of Van Buren County.

“I guess I don’t have a problem with it being over a lifetime,” said Kent White of Henry County.

With a policy in place for the employees to use as reference, there would be no excuses for not notifying RUSS if they weren’t going to be at work that day. “Then they would just have to live with the consequences,” said Ernie Schiller of Lee County. “We set the policy, and (Hudson) enforces it.”

White brought the idea of rewording the policy so that it would read “possible termination” for the third instance of an employee not calling in. “It would give you as a supervisor the option of termination,” said White.

“I think we need a policy, but I think you need some leeway,” said Phillips, noting that in some instances such as a car accident or an emergency doctor visit calling in to work may not be a possibility.

The board agreed and extenuating circumstances would excuse the employee from the three strike rule.

The board also:

• Heard updates from contractors French-Reneker and Garden and Associates.

• Discussed the state audit for fiscal year 2011.

• Discussed bids for fiscal year 2012 audit.

• Discussed an amended/subsitiuted joint agreement with Washington County for the Richmond project.

The next RUSS meeting will be Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Henry County Emergency Management Building.

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