MEMPHIS, Tenn. --New changes have been made to the city of Memphis sick leave policy due to the Blue Flu epidemic taking place.
The changes were announced during an afternoon news conference that started with by Mayor A C Wharton thanking police officers who have shown up to work.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 550 MPD employees had called in sick.
Mayor Wharton said the city does not condone sick-outs and all employees are expected to follow the sick leave policy.
"Corrective action, if necessary, will be taken," he said.
"It's unfair to those employees honoring their obligations," Wharton added.
CAO George Little announced changes to the MPD city sick policy, which now closely resembles the sick policy for most city employees.
Employees are now required to call in sick daily, rather than just on the first day as in the past.
Little also stressed those who do call in sick must tell their supervisor what part of their job they cannot complete and they must call in two hours prior to a shift.
Those who are out more than three days will need a note from a doctor and will be sent paperwork to start the short-term disability process.
Employees are expected to tell their supervisor where they will be, and to be available for an in-person or phone check by a supervisor.
Wharton said no city employee or retiree will go without medical care.
"Benefits are being changed, but they are not being taken away," he said.
When asked if he considered the sick calls a strike, Mayor Wharton said, "I'm not putting a label on it. You heard the numbers, they are not coming to work."
"Leave no doubt about it, we do not condone what is taking place. Let's get back around the table," Wharton said.
The department has cancelled all regular days off and vacation days until further notice.
Both Director Toney Armstrong and Little said they will make accommodations for officers who have financial obligations to planned vacations.
"When it comes to the safety of the citizens of Memphis, we will do whatever is necessary," Wharton said.
A man in the crowd asked, "With those actively and/or seeking other jobs, what happens when the numbers out sick become the number who have gone?"
Mayor Wharton admitted that concerns him.
Several protestors filled the Hall of Mayors where the news conference was held. Several people held signs demanding full benefits be restored.
Toward the end of the news conference Mayor Wharton protestors started shouting questions at Wharton and he did take several of those questions.