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Picking Up Sick Leave Trips Requires Permission

Date: January 31, 2023

Picking Up Sick Leave Trips Requires Permission

Section 13 of our Contract provides income protection in the form of Sick Leave benefits when illness prevents us from working our schedule. Regardless of the medical reason that prevents us from working our schedule, individual Flight Attendants, at their option, make the determination as to when they will use this negotiated benefit. 

Because sick leave is a reality, AFA negotiated that a list of trips on sick leave would be made available to Flight Attendants as a form of a “heads up” in terms of open trips that may become available eight (8) hours prior to departure and this list is viewable by all Flight Attendants. At the eight-hour mark, the trip rolls off the Flight Attendant’s schedule and into open time for pick-up by another Flight Attendant or potential assignment to a Reserve. This understanding is accurately captured by the disclaimer located at the top of the screen on CCS: “Sick Leave trips include potentially open trips from the schedule of Flight Attendants who are currently on Sick Leave. If the Flight Attendants remain on Sick Leave, these trips will be released to Open Time 8 hours prior to departure.” 

To the surprise of many, we have learned that not all Flight Attendants are viewing this listing of potential sick pairings in the manner and for the purpose for which it was devised. Recently a Flight Attendant viewed the list of potential sick leave pairings and, without permission through the direct trade process, took a Sick Leave pairing from the line of a Flight Attendant more than 8 hours prior to departure. This was done without the consent of the Flight Attendant on Sick Leave status who was ultimately denied the income protection of a sick leave payment. 

It must be stated in the clearest way possible; this a violation of not only our Contract but also the rights of the Flight Attendant on Sick Leave. As a result of this action, the Flight Attendant on sick leave lost the wages to which entitled when the pairing was removed from their schedule.

In response to this action, the Company terminated the Flight Attendant who took the pairing, citing “theft” as the basis for their decision. When the case was presented before the System Board of Adjustment, the Arbitrator agreed with the company. The rationale behind the decision stated that Flight Attendants work under no direct supervision and the company must be able to trust Flight Attendants. Further, emphasizing that where an employee has committed theft, the employer has no reason to trust the employee. 

Based on the Arbitrator’s decision, Flight Attendants must clearly understand their obligation to work within the framework of our Contract and to observe and respect the rights of the Flight Attendants with whom we work. In every instance, and in particular, when someone is on sick leave, full permission is required when directly trading a pairing from another’s line of flying. These transactions have economic consequences and both parties must be fully aware of any action having this type of financial impact. In short, if there is a question about trading a trip, get permission before you enter the direct trade into the computer.

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