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Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

Absence Certificate Requirement for Holiday Sick Call Raises Questions

Date: December 6, 2017
Type: AFA Article

A recent article in E-lines dated December 1st addressing the company’s announcement that Absence Certificates will be required for sick calls and for instances where sick leave is used to care for a spouse or minor child (Section 13.D.7.) that begin during the period starting December 20, 2017 – January 4, 2018, has raised a number of questions.

Section 13.C.4. of the JCBA provides for this procedure provided management supplies the appropriate advance notice to the Union and Flight Attendants.   In anticipation of the upcoming Christmas holiday, management advised the Union and Flight Attendants on November 29, 2017 that Absence Certificates will be required for everyone using sick leave during the December 20, 2017 – January 4, 2018 period with one exception.  Flight Attendants who have had no absences during the prior twelve (12) calendar months are not subject to the Absence Certificate requirement that applies during the holiday period.

This Contract provision was historically part of the pre-merger CAL & CMI Agreements and, as a result of the work of our Negotiating Committee, was changed during bargaining for our JCBA deleting the Thanksgiving holiday from inclusion in this requirement. Absence Certificates are documents that are provided exclusively to United Medical because they provide medical information to which supervisors are not entitled to either see or review. 

Additional questions have been asked regarding the interplay of this provision and Federal law for those individuals with approved Family Medical Leave.  Specifically, it has been suggested that those with approved FMLA cannot be required to provide an Absence Certificate.  In fact, those with approved FMLA can be (and are) required to provide this documentation to United Medical and there is nothing improper or unlawful about the requirement to do so.

Finally, there is a significant difference between the Absence Certificate (which is required under this provision of the contract) and a physician’s note. The physician’s note is an optional document that is used to reduce the point assessment associated with the use of sick leave by ½ point as outlined in the Dispute Resolution, Attendance and Performance Management Agreement at the Flight Attendant’s option.

If you have additional specific questions about this provision of our JCBA or the associated documents – Absence Certificate, physician’s note or the Dispute Resolution, Attendance and Performance Management Agreement, we strongly encourage you to contact your Local Council for assistance in obtaining answers to your questions.

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