A new policy limiting the amount of sick days for Metro bus drivers was not received well by the bus service’s workers last week. Fifty-nine bus drivers called in sick Friday, Jan. 4 in protest of a new policy reducing the number of sick days available for drivers.
The details of the protest are unconfirmed — the local bus drivers’ union opposed the new sick day policy, but the union says it was unaware of any effort to protest.
The old policy allowed bus drivers to take two sick days a month without fear of disciplinary action. The new policy allows four and a half sick days per year before disciplinary action is taken and eight sick days in a year before termination. But with a doctor’s note, sick leaves amounting to more than two days are counted as only two sick days. Federal law also protects extended sick leaves for up to 12 weeks, and they don’t count as sick days at all in Metro policy.
Metro spokesperson Sallie Hilvers says the unusually high number of sick days subsided by Jan. 7, and the call-ins only caused delays for early morning bus service on Jan. 4.
She says the new policy is necessary to bring down costs related to absenteeism.