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LADWP changes sick day policy, requires doctor’s note

DWP workers have recently been criticized for overuse of sick days.
DWP workers have recently been criticized for overuse of sick days.
Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Under fire over employees’ seeming abuse of sick days, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Wednesday issued a new policy requiring a doctor’s note for workers who are off the job for more than two days.

Employees must “present a written medical certification from a health care provider…verifying the necessity of the use of sick time,” DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said in a department-wide bulletin.

Nichols acted less than a week after the Los Angeles Times reported the DWP has paid employees more than $35.5 million for 103,802 extra sick days. The paper reported the paid days off were beyond the agency's nominal 10-day-a-year cap on sick days.

“This move will help eliminate abuse of the current policy that we found by a very small fraction of employees – estimated at about 1-to-2 percent,” DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said in a statement. He added the department has a relatively good track record on sick days.

“As it stand, 55% of DWP employees didn’t take a single sick day in 2012," he said. Ramallo said the  department wide-average is 4.5 days per employee, compared to the National Bureau of Labor average of four days in the private sector.

Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the DWP’s change in sick leave policy.

“The policy is a good step to curb this abuse,” said Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman. “The mayor is looking for other ways to reform the DWP and make it operate more efficiently.”