At Wal-Mart (WMT) today, snowy weather is not an excuse for lateness. It had better be described as a natural disaster similar to a hurricane or blizzard. And being ten minutes or even more tardy for work thrice will get you a demerit. Too many of those could easily get you fired.
It’s all part of a revised attendance policy implemented earlier this fall which makes 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 those are the latest attempt by the nation’s largest private employer to eliminate unhealthy and costly long term workers since it seeks to reduce labor costs.
John Simley, spokesman for Walmart attendance policy, calls the costs by labor-backed groups “invalid” and said the alterations are an enhancement in the company’s prior policy.
“We have been formalizing and enforcing the insurance plan to ensure greater consistency and also to minimize subjectivity,” he stated.
“It is designed to develop a better work environment plus a better shopping environment. The end result is better communication as well as a better shopping experience,” he stated.
Documents furnished for the Associated Press by union-backed WakeUpWalmart.com reveal that employees must call an 800 number to report all absences and tardiness by one hour before the scheduled start time. They also have to call their manager using the confirmation code they received when calling the line number. Previously, employees got permission directly from their store managers.
“Right after a year of adopting antifamily policy after antifamily policy, Wal-Mart adds further insult to injury by adopting a brand new restrictive attendance policy that treats hard-working associates like children while penalizing them if, God forbid, they face a child or friend using a medical emergency,” said Chris Kofinis, a spokesman at WakeUpWalmart.com.
The group is placed to keep its first-ever national conference call with Wal-Mart employees and civil rights leaders Thursday to go over the latest move together with other recent labor changes.
In September, Wal-Mart stated it will stop offering traditional low-deductible health plans for new hires next year in favor of low-premium plans with higher deductibles. Wal-Mart has maintained the move will put more health care money and choices in the hands of its more than 1.3 million United states workers, but union-backed Wal-Mart critics claim it is actually pushing the ever rising costs of health care onto its workers.
Wal-Mart has also received heat from critics for implementing caps on its seven hourly pay grades. Employees that are at or over the cap is not going to have their own pay cut, nonetheless they are only able to have a raise by moving into a higher-paid category.
Wal-Mart isn’t the sole major corporation grappling with how to cut down on no-shows; unscheduled absenteeism has climbed to its highest level since 1999, based on results released a week ago of your annual nationwide survey of 326 hr executives in U.S. companies and organizations.
The survey, conducted for CCH Inc. through the Harris Interactive consulting firm, place the United states absenteeism rate at 2.5 percent in 2006, up from 2.3 percent this past year and also the highest since seven in the past in the event it was 2.7 percent. The survey found out that personal illness makes up for only 35 % of unscheduled absences, with the rest on account of family issues, personal needs, stress as well as an entitlement mentality.
But Pamela Wolf, a workplace analyst at CCH, believes that Wal-Mart’s absentee control program appears to be bucking the trend among major corporations to embrace work-life programs which can be “built 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 with the National Retail Federation, defended stricter attendance policies like Wal-Mart’s, saying “if you don’t have controls set up to carry employees accountable, you can’t guarantee a certain amount of service.”
However, some Wal-Mart employees, whose names were furnished by WakeUpWal-Mart.com, said in interviews that this new policy is too rigid.
The newest policy reduces the quantity of unapproved absences capable to three from the previous four during a rolling six-month period. Employees who definitely have over three unapproved absences 43dexhpky be disciplined; seven can result in termination, according to the documents. Simley said beneath the old policy, employees were terminated after six unapproved absences.
The new policy appears more rigid in terms of authorized absences. In past times, general bad weather would suffice for an authorized excuse; now it has to be an all natural disaster similar to a hurricane or blizzard. Wal-Mart is already defining tardiness more rigidly as beginning work 10 minutes or more after the scheduled start time, which leads to an incomplete shift. Three incomplete shifts add up to one unauthorized absence.
Simley argued that the new policy is much more flexible. Before, employees might have been marked down as tardy for being a just matter of minutes late for work, he was quoted saying.
Within the revised policy, Wal-Mart is encouraging employees who are sick for over 3 days to apply for unpaid leave of absence beneath the Family Medical Leave Act.
“They always said family comes first; now, will they be coming last?” asked Cynthia Murray,a Hyattsville, Md., resident, who works from the fitting room of the 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 as being an unauthorized absence.
Mike Turner, who resigned 3 weeks ago as assistant manager of the Wal-Mart store in Crosby, Tex., said he was briefed in regards to the changes by his bosses earlier this fall. He explained that underneath the old policy, managers would approve excuses over a case-by-case basis, however the 800 number eliminates such “human interaction.”
“In my opinion in being fair,” he stated, noting he personally approved lots of situations that created a worker late like flooding or possibly a car wearing down. “Exactlty what can you tell a good associate that you are likely to discipline due to a system that goes against human interaction?” he asked.