At Wal-Mart (WMT) these days, snowy weather has stopped being an excuse for lateness. It had better be a natural disaster similar to a hurricane or blizzard. And being 10 minutes or more tardy for work 3 x will get you a demerit. Too many of those could get you fired.
It’s all element of a revised attendance policy implemented earlier this fall that creates Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hourly workers more accountable for excessive unexcused absences and formalizes such penalties.
The latest rules already are drawing fire from critics who claim these are the latest attempt from the nation’s largest private employer to get rid of unhealthy and costly long term workers as it seeks to cut labor costs.
John Simley, spokesman for Walmart Call In Sick Number, calls the costs by labor-backed groups “invalid” and said the adjustments are an enhancement of your company’s prior policy.
“We have been formalizing and enforcing the insurance policy to guarantee greater consistency and also to minimize subjectivity,” he said.
“It was created to generate a better work environment as well as a better shopping environment. The result is much better communication as well as a better shopping experience,” he explained.
Documents furnished for the Associated Press by union-backed WakeUpWalmart.com show that employees must call an 800 number to report all absences and tardiness by 1 hour ahead of the scheduled start time. They also have to call their manager using the confirmation code they received when calling the hot line number. Previously, employees got permission straight from their store managers.
“After having a year of adopting antifamily policy after antifamily policy, Wal-Mart adds further insult to injury by adopting a whole new restrictive attendance policy that treats hard-working associates like children while penalizing them if, God forbid, they face a youngster or friend having a medical emergency,” said Chris Kofinis, a spokesman at WakeUpWalmart.com.
The audience is scheduled to keep its first-ever national conference call with Wal-Mart employees and civil rights leaders Thursday to go over the most up-to-date move together with other recent labor changes.
In September, Wal-Mart stated it will stop offering traditional low-deductible health plans for first time hires next year to opt for low-premium plans with higher deductibles. Wal-Mart has maintained that the move will put more medical money and choices in the hands of its over 1.3 million U.S. workers, but union-backed Wal-Mart critics claim it is actually pushing the increasing costs of healthcare onto its workers.
Wal-Mart has also received heat from critics for implementing caps on its seven hourly pay grades. Employees who definitely are at or over the cap will never their very own pay cut, nonetheless they is only able to get a raise by moving to a higher-paid category.
Wal-Mart isn’t the only real major corporation grappling with how to minimize on no-shows; unscheduled absenteeism has climbed to the highest level since 1999, as outlined by results released the other day of any annual nationwide survey of 326 human resource executives in U.S. companies and organizations.
The survey, conducted for CCH Inc. through the Harris Interactive consulting firm, put the Usa absenteeism rate at 2.5 percent in 2006, up from 2.3 percent a year ago as well as the highest since seven yrs ago in the event it was 2.7 percent. The survey found that personal illness makes up for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest as a result of family issues, personal needs, stress along with an entitlement mentality.
But Pamela Wolf, a workplace analyst at CCH, believes that Wal-Mart’s absentee control program is apparently bucking the buzz among major corporations to embrace work-life programs which are “designed to recruit and retain workers.”
“This doesn’t appear to be introducing flexibility to its employees,” Wolf said, after being briefed on Wal-Mart’s new policy.
Dan Butler, v . p . of operations at the National Retail Federation, defended stricter attendance policies like Wal-Mart’s, saying “in the event you don’t have controls in place to carry employees accountable, you can’t guarantee a specific measure of service.”
However some Wal-Mart employees, whose names were furnished by WakeUpWal-Mart.com, said in interviews how the new policy is way too rigid.
The newest policy reduces the number of unapproved absences permitted to three through the previous four during a rolling six-month period. Employees who may have more than three unapproved absences 43dexhpky be disciplined; seven can result in termination, according to the documents. Simley said under the old policy, employees were terminated after six unapproved absences.
The latest policy appears more rigid with regards to authorized absences. Previously, general bad weather would suffice being an authorized excuse; now it needs to be a natural disaster like a hurricane or blizzard. Wal-Mart has become defining tardiness more rigidly as beginning work 10 minutes or even more once the scheduled start time, which leads to an incomplete shift. Three incomplete shifts amount to one unauthorized absence.
Simley argued the new policy is far more flexible. Before, employees might have been marked down as tardy as being a just matter of minutes late for work, he explained.
Beneath the revised policy, Wal-Mart is encouraging employees who definitely are sick for more than 72 hours to apply for unpaid leave of absence beneath the Family Medical Leave Act.
“They always said family comes first; now, is it coming last?” asked Cynthia Murray,a Hyattsville, Md., resident, who works inside the fitting room of any Wal-Mart store in Laurel, Md.
One of many changes that Murray is upset about is www.loginsecure.org/walmart-associate-call-in-hotline-number now counts leaving work early to buy a sick child as being a strike against you. Simley argued that Wal-Mart always counted that being an unauthorized absence.
Mike Turner, who resigned three weeks ago as assistant manager of a Wal-Mart store in Crosby, Tex., said he was briefed regarding the changes by his bosses earlier this fall. He explained that under the old policy, managers would approve excuses on a case-by-case basis, however the 800 number eliminates such “human interaction.”
“I think in being fair,” he said, noting he personally approved lots of situations that created a worker late like flooding or even a car breaking down. “Exactlty what can you tell a great associate that you are going to discipline as a result of system that is the opposite of human interaction?” he asked.