Is it typical for the Employee to find there own coverage when calling in sick? I work in the health care field, and this was just implemented by my Employer. is this right or wrong?

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    I don't know that this is something we can offer a answer for since it would be highly dependent on where you work and what other companies in the area do. – JasonJ Nov 17 '16 at 15:59
  • Are you in a union? This is something a union rep would definitely be able to help with. – David K Nov 17 '16 at 16:06
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    This sounds like a logistical nightmare and really bad management. With what your employer is asking, every employee will require details of every single other person who might be able to cover their shift so they can all be contacted. What happens if someone leaves the company on bad terms? Will they continually contact existing employees to rant about the company? What if someone gets a new number? To me, this should be up to management. They have the rotas so they know who is already working and can have one list of numbers to contact everyone. – Stephen Nov 17 '16 at 16:07
  • Are they going to ask you to find your replacement when you quit as well? This should not be your responsibility - your work needs someone there, they need to figure out what to do when someone is out. Period. Human resources departments exist for just this reason... – Barry Franklin Nov 17 '16 at 17:18
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    Teachers are generally expected to find their own substitutes when calling in sick in the US and the same with restaurants and retail, so it likely is legal in the US. Whether it is a good idea or not is a different question. Personally I think it means you have lazy, incompetent managers or ones who assume you are not sick when you call in sick and thus must come to work unless you can find a replacement. Suppose the out sick was for being in the hospital unconscious, how could you find someone to cover you? – HLGEM Nov 17 '16 at 18:33

Right or wrong depends on your contract, your union status (if any), and local laws - and I wouldn't be surprised if there are specific provisions in the law for health-care workers.

Employees being required to arrange for coverage for personal reasons (vacation, appointments, etc - things that you can plan in advance) is a common thing in both the retail and restaurant industries. But arranging for coverage when you're actually sick is not - management generally bears the burden of dealing with that, since you can't plan for it.

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    It is dependent on the organization's culture along with the manager's methods. In reality, it is the manager's responsibility. Employees don't often know what another person's skills, status, availability, ability, other priorities, etc. – MikeP Nov 17 '16 at 16:22

The better question would be, how can you make a case to management that this is a bad idea. So I give you some ideas for objections you and your coworkers coudl bring up.

First, it requires that all employees know who is and who isn't qualified to substitute for them. Since health care jobs have specific skill requirements, this is a significant burden. Getting an unqualified replacement could put patients at risk.

It also requires that you have the personal contact information of all employees you can ask to sub. Of course many of them will be scheduled for the next shift and asking them to work two successive shifts would be a bad thing. Further, management has the information about schedules and qualifications and contact numbers in a form that is easy to look up in the HR systems, but as an employee, you would not have the access to see who is even available.

Next there may be perception of unfair treatment if some worker categories do not have to this (like doctors) and others (like nurses) do.

Next, some workers may not actually have anyone who can substitute for them. Does that mean they are not allowed to be sick? Perhaps cancelling appointments is the better thing to do in some cases. That is a decision that only a manager could make though.

It is also a very bad thing for a health care worker to come to work sick, especially if it is something contagious. It could make others sick, it could affect patients who already have compromised immune systems.

Even something not contagious could cause the person to be unable to perform their job without putting patients at risk as their own abilities might be compromised. I recently broke a foot and was in severe pain, I couldn't have worked a health care shift and if I had, I might have made mistakes that could be life threatening because of either the pain medicine masking me loopy or being distracted by the pain if I couldn't take pain medicine.

If you can't find a replacement or don't want to try to persuade someone else, it will lead to people working when they should not. That will lead to putting patients at risk which is unacceptable.

Further, it is pure torture to expect someone who is throwing up from food poisoning or in severe pain to make calls and try to talk people into coming in to replace you. That is simply treating people as if they were pieces of machinery and not people and means the place that does it is not a good place to work. And how could you be expected to do it at all if you are in the hospital unconscious and your spouse calls in sick for you?

A policy like this is likely to cause your best, most capable people to leave because they are the ones who can find a new job the quickest. No one wants to be treated as a piece of machinery.

  • I feel the strongest points of your argument are about the costs of coming in unwell. Different worker categories will inherently be treated differently based on different contracts. In shift work situations it would be the norm for people to be able to see the departmental schedule rather than just their own and sharing of contact lists for purposes of shift swapping isn't exactly far fetched. I think that going to management with concerns about people coming in unwell because they can't find a replacement should be sufficient, that these other arguments are easily resolved. – Myles Nov 17 '16 at 18:59
  • @Myles, I would not give out my personal contact information to all my coworkers, many people don't want this information given out. It is wrong to expect it. – HLGEM Nov 17 '16 at 19:01
  • In my sister's department as a home care nurse, they have a list which people can opt out of. There is a personal cost in the fact that extra shifts are less likely to flow your way if you opt out and you are less likely to build reciprocity with others when you need to pass off a shift. – Myles Nov 17 '16 at 19:06

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