“Unexcused” absences: Cold and Flu season at Gaba

Nov 24, 2013

Winter is coming, and all throughout Gaba we can hear the sounds of coughing and sneezing as instructors who probably shouldn’t be working drag themselves in for another shift. Above and beyond that, however, is the issue of “excused” and “unexcused” absences. If this is the first time you’re hearing such terms that’s because, if there is a written policy governing their use, we’re not aware of it.

This results in absences being termed “unexcused” or “excused” according to a set of rules we have never seen and don’t understand. For instance, if you have been sick too often, your absence might be marked as “unexcused”. This can be used to cut pay, or put an instructor on a shortened contract, or on the road to contract non-renewal if the company wishes.

It is often possible to avoid this by going to the doctor and then bringing the letter or invoice and giving it to your ISL as proof that you are genuinely sick. Some ISLs will accept a receipt for medicine bought. In some cases, the fact that instructors were visibly unwell before calling in sick may be enough.

The difficulty is that there are ISLs who do not even ask for such proof. So what can happen is that one day you feel too ill to work and so call in sick. You then return to work a few days later, unaware that anything is wrong. A few months later you are given a letter by their ISL telling you that you are being threatened with debelting (a pay cut) for having an “unexcused” absence.

At the moment, what you can do is ask your ISL what they consider an “excused” or “unexcused” absence and go from there. Meanwhile we are looking to getting clarification of these terms, and asking for a policy to be published that dictates their use.

As always, if you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, or anything else you feel was unfair or contravenes your rights, don’t hesitate to contact us.

November 24, 2013