NAPE/AFSCME Member Jessica Low is a Social Services Worker at the Scottsbluff Customer Service Center. In February, Jessica received her annual performance evaluation for 2022. When she met with her supervisor to discuss her evaluation and receive performance feedback, Jessica was disappointed to see that she received an overall unsatisfactory score of 2.9 on the evaluation.
Jessica was only rated unsatisfactory in one section, which was the “Accountable and Dependable” goal focusing on attendance. The comments from her supervisor stated that she was rated a 2 or “somewhat meets” expectations in this category because she had greater than 10 unplanned absences in 2022. Jessica’s management considers calling in sick on a given day to be an “unplanned absence”, even though Jessica always used her earned sick leave to have her absences approved.
Union members employed at DHHS negotiated specific contract language regarding unplanned absences since their management is the only state agency that considers this in performance evaluations. Our union contract prohibits DHHS management from using “unplanned absences” to negatively impact performance evaluations as long as the employee has earned sick or vacation time and the absence was approved. In Jessica’s case, all of her absences were approved and she used her earned leave.
When Jessica reached out to her union representative, it was determined that management violated the DHHS Appendix of our labor contract, and a grievance was soon filed on her behalf. After a meeting with DHHS Labor Relations, Jessica’s evaluation was corrected to ensure she receives an overall satisfactory score of 3, or “meets expectations”. Because of this, Jessica will receive the full performance-based step pay increase on July 1 that she worked hard to earn.
No employee should be punished for using their earned sick leave, including on their performance evaluations. If you are ever disciplined or otherwise negatively impacted by “unplanned absences,” reach out to a NAPE Steward or field staff member as soon as possible.