Metro targets truancy to improve productivity and save on costs

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Metro’s general manager said Friday he is targeting truancy to increase productivity, to reduce extended unexcused leave and overtime and to save on operating costs.

“Every day of absence we avoid improves productivity, facilitates better operations, and helps prevent overtime,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said. “We expect this effort to generate about $2 million in bottom-line improvements projected in the FY18 proposed budget.”

Wiedefeld’s management team in an internal investigation revealed that more than 100 employees took more extended leave than allowed by the law, Metro policy or their collective bargaining agreements. Staff told 25 of the employees who took too much extended leave that they were no longer on active status.

Metro said another 100 employees are under review for the same reason. Wiedefeld said some of the employees who took too much extended leave but who remained on active status may have earned credit in the form of service time toward their pensions and health care coverage.

Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly said the employees in question who were on active status were not being paid while on extended leave, however.

Board finance committee chairperson Michael Goldman, who represents Montgomery County, said he was concerned about the excessive use of extended leave.

“(They’re) not necessarily getting paid, but they were staying on the system, so getting the benefit of increases of years of seniority,” Goldman said of the employees on extended leave whom Metro said are on active status.

Goldman said he supports Wiedefeld’s changes and that he hopes they will improve workforce reliability.

“Hopefully it’s going to provide for some economies and we’re going to have a more reliable work force, (and) we don’t have a lot of sort of shadows or phantoms that are on the payroll taking up space,” Goldman said.

He said he believes the employees who violate rules regarding extended leave are harmful to the work environment of those who work at least 40 hours a week. Wiedefeld is making changes to policies pertaining to extended leave that requires a medical evaluation, Metro said.



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