Blue Flu could lead to sick leave changes

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The fact that officers can even take so much sick leave has many questioning whether it's time to change the policy and prevent another Blue Flu.

Hundreds of police officers and even firefighters have been calling in sick for days to protest cuts to their health care benefits.

The way things are structured now, it's OK for officers and firefighters to call in for a day or two without having to answer for it. However, now with this Blue Flu and Red Rash, there may be some changes sooner or later.

The sick out is costing the city, and eventually, it could put you at risk. An On Your Side investigation uncovered the city is already paying a lot in overtime.

WREG discovered the city budgeted $22 million in overtime pay for the fiscal year that just ended. Most of that went to policeman and firefighters. One officer took home an extra $40,000 in overtime pay.

"I've been saying for a long time we need paid time off reform and this is an example of the policy of why I think we need simple reform," said Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad.

Another issue is most of those calling out sick don't have to worry about running out of sick leave because they've got a lot banked up. WREG found some city employees can earn up to 30 days of leave a year and can carry them over from year to year. The average Mid-South employee working in the private sector gets six days of sick time a year. Since the Blue Flu and Red Rash, the city is cracking down by having employees call a supervisor for every day they're out.

"We have a more strict city policy which everybody ought to follow and that's what we're going to have to do," said Mayor A C Wharton.

Conrad goes even further.

"There's a lot of things at the city of Memphis that have been done the same way for a long, long time that have built up and we just need some reasonable reforms so we can keep the prosperity of the city going," said Conrad.


  • Jen

    You are stupidly adding in vacation and sick days to get that inflated number of 30 days a year. They earn 2-3 weeks vacation a year, depending on how long they have been employed. Then they earn 10-15 days a year sick leave a year. This is comparable with most large companies and government agencies. But, of course, you have to make a story. Check your facts. Many employees have banked tons of hours because THEY DON”T USE IT! Meaning, there is no need for an overhaul. MOST employees are NOT abusing the policies in place. Oh, and by the way, I would probably want to bank plenty of time if my job involved getting shot at, breaking up knife fights, arresting criminals, or putting out fires. Just saying.

  • Get Informed

    If the city had effective leaders they would fix the problem by not warring with their own employees. They would not misspend the money, Pay the people what they were owed and none of these problems would exist. This kind of stuff hasn’t happened since 1978. Since Wharton has been here this place has been embroiled in a war with it’s own employees at no fault to them. Here is an idea. Quit spending time trying to find how you can mess with employees and do what true leaders do and just do right. This apparent private war against policemen and firemen has gone on too long. It’s even in national news. Quit trying to rule with an iron fist and work together. I think all Memphians are tired of it.I know I am.

    • Johnny

      Well said. A happy worker ia a productive worker. Common decentcy and fairness gives you a lot of leverage as an employer to demand more and better from an employee. Imagine if you haven’t had a cost of living raise for seven years but only multiple healthcare insurance premium increases and a 5 % paycut. Gives you a sense that a boat dock, ball park and dilapidated malls and buildings are more important than feeding and clothing your children.

  • tim

    BOY O BOY iTS AMAZING HOW jOE q PUBLIC WANTS TO BASH THE POLICE ABOUT PAY AND OT. We work for every thing we get and its still not enough. If you think this job is so easy for the Pay put on a uniform and join us fight these scum bags. I don’t think so Most of you so called tuff guys would shit your pant the first time some one took a shot at you.

  • Karen

    This story is full of falsehoods. First I work in the”private sector” and I earn 35 days paid time off not including sick time. I also get to carry it over. You know what else I get , overtime for working over 40 hours a week. Firefighters don’t get that. The only time they get overtime
    Is of they are held over or are called in. I realize reporters don’t have a very stressful or dangerous job so the need for you to call in is less. Here is an idea, before you start bashing these fine men and women why don’t you check your facts?!! By the way how much time off do get?

  • Council Clowns

    Hey Conrad you need some simple reform of you pork pet projects. What is the name of your Property Management Company? Oh nevermind this is it….In addition, as Principal for Commercial Advisors, LLC, Kemp is consistently one of the top brokers in the region and his Global Portfolio Solutions Team handles the real estate needs of long term clients with a global footprint of approximately 20MM SF. (And do you use TAXPAYER money to do it like you use taxpayer money in Memphis for your pet projects?)

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