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This sucks !!! It's none of their business.

From the Detroit Insider:

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Delphi asks ill workers for health files

Hourly workers who call in sick could lose pay if they won't release medical info.

By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

Hourly employees at Delphi Corp. who refuse to sign waivers releasing their medical records could lose vacation days or pay as part of a new, stricter policy adopted in April to combat absenteeism.

The Troy-based auto parts maker's crackdown on no-shows, which has roiled workers and local union officials, comes as Detroit's struggling automakers and auto parts suppliers redouble efforts to lower operating costs.

Absenteeism among hourly workers in the automotive industry runs about 10 percent annually, about three times higher than in other industries, and costs companies millions of dollars a year in lost productivity, according to a study published last year by the Automotive Supplier Action Committee.

In many cases, companies must maintain a pool of extra workers to cover absent employees on a daily basis.

Delphi's absentee rate is "comparable to our peers in the industry," spokeswoman Luce Rubio said.

Signing the waivers is optional for Delphi employees, and workers can limit the information that is released, Rubio said. But workers who refuse to allow access to their medical records can face repercussions.

"If Delphi is unable to identify that the absence is medically necessary, it may be treated as unexcused and they may be charged with vacation time," Rubio said.

The company negotiated the waiver policy with the United Auto Workers union, Rubio said, and has a separate policy for dealing with nonunion salaried workers requiring personal interaction with supervisors to discuss absenteeism.

Delphi has about 34,000 U.S. factory workers covered by the policy.

Robb Betts, president of UAW Local 2151, which represents workers at a Delphi plant in Coopersville near Grand Rapids, says the policy infringes on members' rights and could end up costing them money.

"They are asking you to surrender your right to privacy through the waiver," Betts said. "We already have an agreement to accept a doctor's slip as an acceptable excuse for an absence. If I don't surrender, I may not be able to cover the time with a vacation day or paid absence day."

Delphi's Rubio says the company isn't necessarily interested in personal medical information but may need the records to verify dates of treatment or other information that may not have been included in a doctor's note.

"We have a lot of challenges," Delphi's Rubio said. "We're trying to improve on our processes and this was one of them."

Privacy laws forbid the company, she added, from calling a doctor or hospital and asking for the information without a release signed by the patient.

Delphi had a less formal policy asking employees to sign medical record releases for some time but bolstered it in April by revising the waiver form to give employees fewer choices over what medical records are released and by more aggressively investigating absences that are believed to be suspicious.

"If the employee will not sign the 'consent to release medical information' form, management will have to make its decision as to the reasonability of the cause for absence with the limited information it has at its disposal," according to a memo outlining the policy provided to The Detroit News.

Such policies are legal and, given the growing cost of workplace absenteeism, are becoming more common, said Maurice Jenkins, an attorney specializing in auto industry labor law at the Detroit law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC.

"The waiver is typically to obtain more information to make a more informed decision," Jenkins said. "The days of the half-page scribbled doctor's note are over."

While most companies don't ask to see workers' medical records, fighting absenteeism has become a top priority in the auto industry because it presents an opportunity to wring out waste.

Ford Motor Co. sends warning letters to habitual no-shows, while some Japanese automakers reward workers with sterling attendance records with cash bonuses, punishing chronic absentees with mandatory counseling sessions.

During labor negotiations in 2003, UAW leaders agreed to work with Ford, General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group to crack down on no-shows.

But Gregg Shotwell, a UAW Local 2151 member, worries that Delphi's medical release policy could lead to even more invasive measures saying "they can push it as far as they can."

Since the beefed-up policy was put in place, there have been no cases of an employee being compelled to sign, but even under the less formal medical waiver system, employees felt the pressure to sign.

Last year, Phillip Gonzalez, a worker at Delphi's Rochester, N.Y., plant with a back problem, asked to be excused from some duties that required a lot of bending. He obtained a letter from his chiropractor that outlined his limitations.

Gonzalez, 62, said he was told the note was not sufficient and was given an ultimatum.

"They gave me a choice to sign (the medical records release) or they would put me on sick leave," Gonzalez said.

He did sign but then withdrew his consent and was placed on sick leave. Gonzalez said he received $500 a week in sick pay compared to his usual $1,100. After three weeks and about $1,800 in lost pay, Gonzalez signed the waiver and was released from sick leave.

"I had to knuckle down and sign the paper if I wanted to go back to work," Gonzalez said. "I had no choice. It was do that or lose my job."
 

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What a bunch of BS. We had a real good Union rule. If the Co or shop had a problem with a worker. They called the Union BA. And the Union BA would call your Doctor and ask is so and so sick when did he get sick and when can he go back to work. A very simple and easy enforced rule. No details on what kind of sickness or any other info. The Union dues are based on hours worked so less you work the less they the Union gets. So they had good reason for you being on time and on the job. And it was voted on by a members and passed by big margin. Like every thing else there are bad unions and good ones. Just like companies.
 

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Only if the Co. pays part of the Medical. At least in my state. Then again we were paying $985.00 a month for our Med Ins. All of it out of our own pay checks. Then again most Construction trades you don't have sick or vac or holiday days. If you don' t work you don't get paid.
 

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that's a healthy deduction right there... I think my benefits cost me about $40 a month out of my check.
 

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1) When I go to the doctor, dentist, etc, I get a receipt. That receipt has a date on it, along with proof that I visited the doctor. Why would I need to allow access to my medical files to prove that I was sick and when I visited when receipt does just that?

2) Although I don't get sick often, when I do, I rarely go to the doctor. Just because I don't go to the doctor doesn't mean I'm not sick.

What a bunch of BS.
 
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