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Frequent and widespread use of the sick-leave privilege is not considered proof of abuse of that privilege. Many agencies apparently regard this as normal.

The Department of Labor reports that there are no known abuses of the sick-leave privilege in the Department, although the incidence of use of the privilege is higher in that establishment than in any other department, 87.3 percent of their employees having made use of sick leave in the period. The War Assets Administration reports that "the existence and extent of possible abuse of sick-leave privileges is not reflected in the records kept in this agency" although 82.9 percent of their employees were reported as having taken sick leave and 79 percent of the sick leave earned was used up in the period. The Office of Scientific Research and Development, 22 of whose 23 employees have made use of sick leave, reports no abuse of the sick-leave privilege. The Government Printing Office, in which sick leave taken has exceeded sick leave earned during the period, reports that it is “very suspicious in the cases of some employees" but had no definite proof of abuse. Numerous other examples of agencies which have a relatively high rate of sick leave used, but who have found little or no abuse of the sick-leave privilege, could be cited.

On the other hand, many departments and agencies, the larger ones particularly, report frequent abuse of the privilege. Most frequent among these were absences immediately preceding or immediately subsequent to a week end, absences for longer periods than are actually required for medical, dental, or optical treatment, and absences when a reduction in force order is about to be effected. Noncareer employees, especially those whose work is monotonous or distasteful, are found to be frequent abusers of the privilege. “Such employees,” one report states, “have a tendency to take advantage of sick leave as it accrues rather than build up a reserve for future bona fide illness."

Among the causes of abuse of such leave are the following, as reported by departments and agencies. In almost all instances, as stated previously, these abuses are found in the larger establishments.

1. Reductions in force.-One agency reports: Reductions in force appear to be a cause for abuse of the sick-leave privilege. When reduction in force occurs, the morale of all employees, especially those without competitive status, is lowered and a feeling of insecurity results. The knowledge that sick leave expires with the separation of the employee without a payment for accumulated sick leave has led some employees facing reduction in force to use their accrued sick leave in order to conserve their annual leave for which they would receive lump-sum payments at the time of separation. It is believed that this factor results in an abnormally high utilization of sick leave

An official of another agency told committee investigators that when it became apparent that large-scale reductions in force were about to take place a great number of employees immediately reported on sick leave. They remained on sick leave until this accrued leave had been used up, and then reported back to work each with proper medical certifications. Thus, these employees had not only circumvented a reduction in force for a considerable period, but because they continued to accrue annual leave while on sick leave, even had added to the agency's obligations.

2. The long week end and the day after pay day.-A number of establishments reported that absenteeism was most apparent either on



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Monday or Friday, and that this absenteeism was frequently charged to sick rather than annual leave. Other agencies reported high attendance on pay day followed by an unusual amount of sickness immediately after pay day. One agency's experience is illuminating:

Leave records indicate less absences on sick leave on Fridays, which are pay days, than on any other day and more on Mondays when Monday is the first day after pay day.

Disciplinary action where abuses were found was effective to a limited degree. It was stated repeatedly that this was found most frequently among the lower-salaried employees.

Another establishment reports:

In two bureaus employing large groups of per diem workers the sick-leave privilege is known to be abused in many instances. Studies have been made of the situation from time to time over a considerable period and various remedies have been tried but without any appreciable results.

For example, in one bureau it often happens that those abusing the sick-leave privilege are found to be absent principally on Mondays or the day following pay day or a holiday. The pattern is so uniform with regard to these 1- or 2-day absences that there can be only one conclusion; namely, that the people involved are abusing the sick-leave privilege. Different methods have been tried to remedy this situation, such as posting charts showing the absenteeism on bulletin boards, sending absentee investigators to the employees' homes, and requiring medical certificates in the case of apparent abuse of the privilege. None of these methods have accomplished much in reducing the amount of sick leave taken by those that abuse the privilege. . Consideration has been given to the employment of nurses to visit those reporting on sick leave, but the cost would be prohibitive. The present practice is to prefer charges for excessive absence, followed by placing the employee on probation for a period of 6 months. Second or third offenders are usually dismissed.

3. Fallacious conception of the function of sick leave. Some administrators believe that because many employees conceive of sick leave as a right rather than as a privilege, sick leave is used at the rate it is accrued rather than using it as insurance for possible illness. This philosophy is encouraged by the system by which sick leave is forfeited upon separation from the Government whereas accumulations of annual leave are paid for. The difficulty of ascertaining actual abuses further aggravates the situation. Cost of investigation is high and not always satisfactory. One employee was investigated who had been out sick for 31 workdays. His neighbors told the investigator that he was on vacation in a city 400 miles away. When he returned to work, he submitted an application for sick leave, properly substantiated by a physician.

a physician. The report states: The certification of physician or practitioner

does not seem to be adequate in all cases of illness over 3 days.

The physician was contacted and he stated that the employee was under his care for the period of his absence, but he would not make a statement as to when the employee was able to return to duty. The employee has been requested to secure a statement from his physician showing whether or not he was incapacitated for the performance of his duties and outlining the nature of his illness.

Other agencies likewise tend to question the validity in some instances of medical certification of sick leave. Of one employee, with 695 hours of sick leave since the first of the year, the agency states:

We definitely believe this not to be due to illness, but to the personal habits of the employee, although his absences are supported by duly authenticated certificates.


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Again, an employee with 29 years' service receives a fair efficiency rating.

She has been away from the office since the receipt of the efficiency rating and she submits a doctor's certificate each pay period. The doctor has never stated what the nature of her illness is, and she is frequently seen at the movies or in the shopping district. This case is now under thorough investigation.

4. Disinterestedness and dissatisfaction in work.-Lack of conscientious application to duty from a variety of causes contributes to the abuse of sick leave. Lack of confidence in supervisory personnel, failure to have clearly defined duties assigned, actual or assumed grievances, "and other related matters flowing from some deficiency in the work situation" contribute to such abuse.

5. Miscellaneous.-Other causes directly attributable to abuse of sick leave include, according to agency reports, the following: Overindulgence, disturbances in domestic relations, inclement weather, avoidance of being marked tardy, personal business, slight indisposition. In reference to the latter, one agency states:

As long as sick leave is available most employees will use it upon the slightest malaise.

Wide latitudes of administrative procedure are followed in dealing with the problem of sick-leave abuse. In many agencies, particularly the smaller ones, the consensus is that there is no sick-leave abuse, or if any, only of a minor sort and remedied by mild administrative action. In the larger agencies, and particularly in the departments, the problem of considerable abuse is courageously recognized although the solutions are not always readily at hand. Action ranges from a highly developed plan of education and disciplinary action, if necessary, to an abject refusal of the agency to accept its responsibilities in safeguarding the sick-leave privilege. The two extremes are illustrated by two bureaus of a large department. In the one bureau during the past fiscal year 85 cases of apparent abuse of the privilege were investigated and resulted in 27 separations. In the other bureau the report simply states:

There have been many abuses of the privilege, but the Bureau has not had facilities to make investigations to determine to what extent sick leave has been authorized when the employee was not sufficiently ill to justify extension of that privilege.

The failure here is obviously on the administrative level.

Although solutions to sick-leave abuse must certainly vary with conditions inherent in individual establishments, certain remedies, taken from reports to the committee, are worthy of consideration: 1. "It is

the opinion of this office that consolidation of sick and annual leave will eliminate the abuse of sick leave."

2. Elimination of the 3-day period during which time medical certification is not required. This regulation, amended by the Civil Service Commission since the beginning of the Senate Appropriation Committee's investigation, now makes it optional for an agency to require medical certification within the 3-day period.

3. A coordinated program for combating the problem. This would include the maintenance of good employee-management relations, close scrutiny of leave records, education of employees as to the purposes of sick leave and sick-leave regulations, home investigations, medical examinations by the agency and proper disciplinary action where needed. The principal elements of such a program are quoted verbatim from the report of one of the offices of the Department of the Army:

(1) Education.-Every opportunity has been utilized to impress upon super. visors and employees that sick leave is a privilege, that is is a form of insurance, that it is to be used only for bona fide illness, and that its misuse would result in disciplinary action. The media for the dissemination of these ideas have included local publications, meetings, counseling interviews, training sessions, and orientation classes.

(2) Investigations.- A registered nurse has visited those employees who have reported themselves as being ill and unable to work. In addition to reducing the length of such absences by recommending medical attention, these visits have disclosed instances where employees were attempting to defraud the Government through the misuse of sick leave. Employees have been found painting houses, attending social functions, entertaining friends, and in one case employed in another job. Upon the return of such employees to their job, they were each questioned and varying degrees of disciplinary action taken, ranging from removal to the requirement that the employee produce a doctor's certificate for any absence. In the case of the employee found in another job, action has been taken to prosecute through the FBI.

(3) Audit of leave and attendance records.-Periodically, leave and attendance records are reviewed for offenders and action taken as described in subparagraph (a).

(4) Graph maintained.--Continuous attention to graph of absences as described previously.

(5) Disciplinary action.—In those cases where circumstances warrant it, appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.


A considerable number of Federal employees who receive sick- and annual-leave benefits are not subject to the regular privileges as stated by the Civil Service Commission. These include the following:



of em: ployees

Leave regulations

1. Treasury Department, White House Police

2. Department of the Army, maritime personnel..
3. Post Office Department, field service...
4. Interior Department, U. S. Park Service..
5. Department of Agriculture..

Extension Service
Federal land banks.
Feieral intermediate credit banks
Production credit corporations.
Banks for cooperatives.
General land offices.

Cooperative agents
0. Department of Commerce, Coast and Geodetic

Survey, commissioned officers. 7. Federal Security Agency, Public Health Sery.

ice, commissioned officers, 8. Maritime Commission, uniformed personnel....

99 30 days sick leave each calendar year.
11, 271 Common port practice.
437, 753 Wide variety of leave regulations, some

apparently cumulative indefinitely:
114 (According to 44 Stat. 834 as amended.)
14, 500
(12,000) Respective State leave systems.

|(Subject to Public Law 323, Seventy-fifth

Congress. Accumulate sick leave 146 (2, 400) days per month to 90 days; annual leave

at same rate to 60; plus 1 day for each

year of service to 7.) (100) State regulations.

157 Same as Nary officers. 2,008

Same as Army and Navy officers. 952 Annual leave at rate of 244 days per month

to 60.

9. Panama Canal:

Canal Zone..

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Prevailing wage rates.
No annual; 15 days sick cumulative to 45

Union agreements.
8 hours annun) each biweekly period; 10

hours sick each month, both cumulative. 214 days per month annual; 14 days per month sick,


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Nowhere is the lack of uniformity better illustrated in the Government than in the distinction made between annual leave regulations for permanent and temporary employees. By law, permanent employees are allowed 26 days of annual leave in a calendar year. However, temporary employees are allowed 2% days per month, or 30 days during the same period.

There seems to be no reason for this discriminatory lack of uniformity by which temporary employees are given a more advantageous leave privilege than permanent employees.


When it became known that sick and annual leave information was required by the Senate Appropriations Committee, staff representatives contacted responsible officials in the executive branch in an attempt to secure such information with a minimum of cost and a maximum of speed. No information was available, except for the Post Office Department, which by law was already required to report to the Appropriations Committee.

The committee was thus forced to send out a questionnaire to all establishments of the executive branch, requesting such information, The Federal Personnel Council, at the request of a number of agencies, asked the committee to amend its questionnaire in order to speed the replies. Discussions revealed that although sick- and annual-leave accumulations were contingent and actual liabilities of the Government involving millions of dollars, no attempt had been made previously by the departments and agencies to determine the extent of these liabilities on an annual basis. Furthermore, since civil-service regulations, acting under the law, required sick' and annual leave records to be kept on a calendar-year basis, a survey of two calendaryear records was necessary to compile information for a single fiscal year, on which all other Federal computations are based. This is true of all agencies with the major exception of the Post Office Department which keeps its leave records for the field service on a calendar basis and its records for the departmental service on a fiscal basis, both as a result of existing law.

The committee recognized the difficulties attendant to answering its questionnaire in its original form as long as Federal leave regulations were such as they were, and amended its request to comply, for the most part, with the suggestions made by the Federal Personnel Council. In order to secure information needed immediately and at the same time satisfy the need for a complete picture, the committee then requested information for the first 9 months of the calendar year to be followed later by additional information for the entire calendar year. The information contained in this report is based on the information gleaned from the reports of the agencies on the first 9 months of 1947; the later reports for the entire calendar year of 1947 will be surveyed at a later date. In addition, the committee agreed to accept a sampling of at least 20 percent of all field employees' records in lieu of total coverage.

The difficulties involved in making special surveys are attested by the statement of the Department of the Army that if the committee had required a complete tabulation of sick and annual leave records, it would have cost the Department of the Army over $12,000. The

S. Docs., 80-2, vol. 7-16

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