eZone   AFSCME Local 328
 4006 Barbur Blvd, Portland, OR 97239

Frequently Asked Questions - Sick Leave

Article 13.4 says the union and OHSU have a list of criteria about "reasonable grounds to suspect abuse of sick leave" and one regarding employee's ability to perform duties in a safe manner. Can you send a digital copy to my email address? Our manager is saying any illness that lasts 3 days is serious enough to need note from provider to prove you are well enough to return to work. I want to start with trying to talk to her about it before filing a grievance.

The reasonable grounds criteria is on the O2. https://o2.ohsu.edu/human-resources/documents/upload/reasonable-grounds-criteria-physician-practitioner-certification-pdf.pdf

Can you confirm that a grandparent is considered an immediate family member . I would like to use sick time to go to the funeral.

According to the contract Article 13.3.2 - Immediate family and household member.  For purposes of this section, immediate family member is defined as the employee’s parents, spouse, registered domestic partner, children, brother, sister, grandchild, grandparents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law.

So yes, grandparents are considered Immediate family members.


I hope this answers your question.



I have used a couple sick days for reasons related to a documented disability. My supervisor called me in stating that in a 3 month time, 3 sick days would count as 3 occurrences. He further warned that continued occurrences could lead to me being let go. I'm wondering if this is legit or not. Seems like I am being punished for using my sick leave. Is that even legal? Thanks for any information you can provide!

Unfortunately yes, it is legal to receive discipline for attendance issues related to a disability. Having a documented disability does not protect your absences. Even when you have sick leave available to use it does not mean you won't get in "trouble" for using it. To protect yourself I would highly recommend you apply for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). This is what protects your job when you need to miss work for a protected reason. You get up to 12 weeks, either intermittent or in blocks of time, to use throughout a rolling calendar year. It sounds like you would need intermittent leave.

To apply for FMLA you should contact The Standard insurance company. There is paperwork that you and your doctor need to fill out and then return to The Standard within a certain amount of time.

Here is a link to a page in the O2 with information about the different types of leave. https://o2.ohsu.edu/human-resources/benefits/time-away-from-work/fmla.cfm and the phone number for The Standard is 1-800-378-2390.

Depending on how long ago your occurrences are you could ask for them to be covered retroactively. Even if they don't cover the old dates at least you could be protected for future dates. Keep in mind it is up to you to report to The Standard each time you need to use FMLA and you ALSO must follow call in procedures at work and let them know its for a protected reason.

I submitted a quesiton re; sick time and Renee asked me a question but I don't know how to continue the conversation so I am submitting another question. yes my supervisor told me that I needed to be careful of how much sick time I was using as to not have disciplinary action taken. My understanding is when a time off request is placed for sick time and it is granted off this does not count toward disciplinary time. first quesiton am i correct with this understanding.

Richelle - I will try to respond to the various questions.

 Only unscheduled absences count toward occurrences; so, if you have pre-scheduled a doctor's appointment or surgery, you are correct; those absences do not count as occurrences.

2nd question to Renee. What is the rule for disciplinary action in regards to sick time. I could not find it in the contract. I thought it was something like 3 occurances per quarter of UNapproved sick time. Can you direct me to the contract or policy so I can have it in writing please. thanks

All disciplinary action falls under the Discipline/Discharge Article and the just cause standard, Article 23.  Every Department has their own attendance policy, so you need to obtain a copy of yours, but generally, three occurrences in a 3-month period triggers a review and possible progressive discipline.

with the new contract mgmt has until jan 2013 to come up with a sick policy. Until then is the old union policy for sick leave in effect?

The new language (pasted below) states that the employer much publish its policy by January, 2013.  This could be its existing attendance policy, or a revised policy. There is no union sick leave policy.  Each Department has its own policy or may default to the OHSU Healthcare Attendance Policy (for those working in healthcare units).


1.         Effective January 1, 2013, each work unit will be subject to a recognized attendance policy.

Can i use sick leave for my kids dental appointment? In the past i have used sick time but today my supervisor is asking me to use vacation time.

13.3    Utilization of Sick Leave.  Employees may use earned sick leave for absence due to illness, bodily injury, disability resulting from pregnancy, necessity for medical or dental care, exposure to contagious disease, or attendance upon a member of the immediate family or household member where the employee’s presence is required because of illness, injury or death consistent with Section 14.2.4, Bereavement Leave.  Employees are entitled to use paid sick leave immediately upon accrual.  For use of sick leave while on FMLA or OFLA leave, see Section 14.2.2.    


You can use sick time.  Your situation is exactly what it was designed for.

Can a manager say No when I try to call in sick?

  A manager can say NO when you call in sick, but that would be silly. 

  Why would anyone want a sick person hanging around at work sharing thier disease?  Managers can discipline people who miss lots of days for illness.  They can discipline people who cheat on sick time, if they can catch them.  There is no discipline just for being sick.

I need to know if an occurrence with flu in October counts as one occurrence or two since I was sick for 5 days over the weekend with the suspected swine Flu.


Hello Emile, it should only count as 1 occurrence if you were off for 5 consecutive days.



I had to be absent for two weeks because of an unforeseen emergency medical procedure, that is, the sick time was not arranged ahead of time because I didn't know I would be injured. Does that absence count as an attendance occurrence if I present a doctor's note upon returning to work indicating a procedure was required and excusing me from work?

Yes-this still counts as an occurance. A doctor's note gives support that it was a required medical leave, but it does not excuse or erase the actual occurance. If you think you may miss any additional work you should apply for FMLA/OMLA.

If I am off using sick leave for 13 weeks is my job in jeopardy? I have 22 weeks of unused sick time right now.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law which became effective August 5, 1993. It provides certain employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year and requires group health benefits be maintained during the leave. New military family leave entitlements (qualfying exigency leave -- 12 weeks, and military caregiver leave -- 26 weeks) were added in 2008. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued detailed regulations interpreting the FMLA.

It's an interesting quesiton which has not been answered at OHSU. The union beleives that you have to right to use all your sick leave even if it extends beyond 12 weeks, OHSU has on at least one occasion said they disagree. The case in quesstion didn't ultimately result in a grievance so the question remains unanswered.

Major Provisions

It allows eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the:

FMLA just protects your job for 12 weeks.  The 13th week is unprotected.  Attached is OHSU's policy within the Federal guidelines.  http://ozone.ohsu.edu/hr/training/loa/index.html

I have retired & work 2-3 shifts a month. do I still accrue sick & vacation time??

Whether you accrue vacation and sick time would depend on your employment status.

It you are a temporay employee or a flex employee, no. If you are a relief or part time employee, yes.

My department's attendence policy says that "an occurence is a continuous block of time... up to several days in a row." I was out for 12 days due to illness, and now am being told that is going to count as several occurences. Is this correct?

If your absence was a continuous block of time, uninterrupted by a return to work, it shoud count only as one occurance.

My FMLA will run out soon and my doctor will not clear me to return to work before it expires. Does my boss have the right to fill my position if I'm going to be off work for a week or so after my FMLA expires?

Unfortunately, yes, she does. The FMLA allows employees to be off work with a serious medical condition for up to 12 weeks a year. After 12 weeks the employer has no further legal obligation to retain an employee under federal law.

The Union contract guarantees the rights found in the FMLA but does not confer additional return to work rights unless the employee has in excess of 12 weeks of sick leave or vacation and could continue on paid leave for longer than 12 weeks (another good reason to save up your sick leave!)

OHSU will send employees notice when their FMLA is about to run out and you should read these notices closely.

If your FMLA is about to expire you may apply for Extended Medical Leave with OHSU. Extended Medical Leave exists by OHSU policy and it provides that an employee will be placed on the preferred hire list when the employee is cleared to return to work by their medical provider.

While it doesn't guarantee an immediate return to work or placement in your old job, it does guarantee the right to return to a job in your old classification somewhere within OHSU for up to one year after the expiration of your FMLA when a vacancy occurs.

If you do not read the notices from OHSU that come in the mail and act affirmatively to safeguard your return to work rights, you may lose them.

The FMLA is an important law which provides significant protection but not unlimited protection. At some point, even though your medical condition is no fault of yours, the employer will have the right to sever the employment relationship if you can't work.

Can the supervisor/manager ask for a doctors note after calling in sick for 1 day?

There is no time limit. Not one day, nor, as in popular myth, three days.

The contractual requirement is that if your manager reasonably suspects abuse (such as getting getting a report that you were out shopping while you were off sick).

If the manager has reason to believe that you might not be able to perform your duties because of your illness or injury she could ask for a clearance to return to work from your provider.

But they actually need a reason they can point to. They can't just have a hunch.

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