Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld discusses the agency's absenteeism policy with the media at the transit agency's headquarters in D.C. on April 27. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld discusses the agency's absenteeism policy with the media at the transit agency's headquarters in D.C. on April 27. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Metro has revised its absenteeism policy that required workers to provide a 72-hour notice for sick leave, according to a memo from the head of the transit agency.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld outlines in the nine-page memo that employees are now permitted to call in sick on the same day, or take an “unplanned absence,” without advance notice.

The memo, dated Tuesday, also states a “planned absence” allows an employee to use sick leave in advance such as a medical procedure on a certain date.

Another change in the policy states employees with three unplanned absences in a 12-month period would only receive “supervisory counseling.”

The previous policy incorporated in March forced workers to not only receive counseling but also a written warning. The new policy gives a written notice and a one-day suspension with at least six unplanned absences.

One addition to the document requires workers to report a daily absence for up to seven days to a designated official. If the absence extends beyond that point, the employee would notify a supervisor at the beginning of each week “unless the official affirmatively establishes a different reporting schedule.”

“This policy was revised to make sure excessive absenteeism can be fairly and consistently addressed,” Wiedefeld said in the memo.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest workers’ union and outspoken critic of the 72-hour policy, proclaimed victory with the agency’s reversal.

“The revised absenteeism policy was one of the most outrageous illustrations of the environment of retaliation and intimidation at [Metro] and is a reflection of management’s belief that bully tactics are how to best run the system,” the union said in a statement Friday. “This union is proud of its membership who stood strong against the intimidation they endured and were able to force [Metro] leadership to admit its abuse of power and compelled Wiedefeld to make changes that will lead to a more safe and reliable experience for both riders and workers.”

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