Documenting Department Policies -- Getting Rid of the Gray

SHARE members sometimes become frustrated by what they see as "gray areas" in the contract. In an attempt to fix some of these issues, SHARE has made a proposal in contract negotiations to systematize several department-level decisions in black-and-white.

Why the Gray?

SHARE represents almost two hundred job titles, in departments ranging from the tiny variety with two secretaries who work day shift, to enormous departments such as the Emergency Room, which has seventy-four SHARE members, in a variety of jobs, working shifts 24/7. That range leads to some complex challenges. For example, how do you write a vacation policy that would serve all those departments well, especially since they all start off with different ways of handling vacations?

SHARE's answer to that question is to emphasize the input of SHARE members in the department. The SHARE contract has always said that the way vacations are scheduled should be decided in the department, in discussions between the local SHARE members and the local managers. Our position has been that department policies will be different, and differences between departments are ok, as long as the SHARE members in each department have a say.

Most often, where SHARE encounters problems, it's not because of differences between departments, it's because of confusion. In some departments, the vacation policy is very clear because it's written down clearly. If a new manager or a group of SHARE members wants to change the policy because things have changed, they can involve everyone in that discussion. All good.

In other departments, however, the vacation policy isn't written down, and SHARE members get surprised by how it happens each year, or because changes get made without involving staff.

Developing a System for Clarifying and Including SHARE Member Input

SHARE is proposing that every department make sure they have a written policy for the parts of the contract that are left up to SHARE members and their managers to work out in the department. We'd avoid a lot of confusion and problems. SHARE and HR would provide help for any department having a tough time reaching a consensus agreement. We are working toward an agreement that would create deadlines and accountability in order to make sure these policies get documented.

(We also discussed absenteeism and the Massachusetts Earned Sick law at negotiations this week.)