February 29, 2008

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

QUESTION: Vanderbilt policy states that an hourly employee who uses a sick day during the week of a holiday must forfeit the holiday pay. This seems contradictory to our goals at Vanderbilt. If we consider the need to protect patients and fellow employees, shouldn't we be allowed to use sick time during the week of a holiday without being penalized?

ANSWER: Whenever staff are unexpectedly away from work there is a concern about having enough staff available to provide the level of service that we commit to our patients and to others whom we serve.

This is especially true during the holidays, when more staff request time off. It is important that we be able to plan staffing around these requests.

That is why it is expected that staff work their scheduled shifts the week of the holidays, so we'll have enough staff to run our operation effectively.

Unplanned absences result in the increased use of premium pay for agency nurses and other temporary staff who work on a per diem basis.

For privacy reasons managers are asked not to review doctor's notes or to make determinations about a staff member's medical condition.

So, in order to apply our policies consistently, certain expectations are established. If a staff member takes a holiday off but is sick some other day during that week, he is paid for the hours missed due to sickness (provided he has accrued sick leave) but he forfeits the holiday pay.

— Veronica W. Burns, senior director, Human Resources