I have a little issue that I was wondering if some of you could weigh in on.  Myself and my other half both have full time jobs.  She works as a cake decorator and I work for the fire department.  We are a combination department and we are severely running short on personnel to fill shifts (volunteers fill shifts when paid staff need a day off).  A couple days ago, both of our young children (ages 4 and 2) got a bit of a cold and the babysitter won't take them.  I have to work tomorrow, and am unable to take the day off because we are understaffed and there's nobody to cover.  She can't call in because she is needed.  Does anybody have any advice as to how I can handle this situation without completely screwing myself?

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Do either of you have a friend that you can trust to watch the kiddos? That's what some of my co-workers would do is have a back up friend to call for these situations.

Ha, no.  I wish we did.  We found a babysitter I think.  I was in a horrible bind I thought.

Oh, I'm sorry.

That is what sick days are for. If you are a FT FF (I'm guessing) then you should have sick days available. Taking sick o watch an ill child IS a legitimate excuse to utilize a sick day. The dept staffing is NOT our concern at that point, the dept can not force you in if you take sick. They may and could require a doctor excuse to validate the sick time, but a simple trip to an urgent care etc may solve that (that's if they make you obtain one).

How the dept manages is their problem.....whether call in OT, ask for vollies, or just run short. Your real priority should be your family, take care of them first.


Brother I could not agree more!!

Even though you are not personally responsible for staffing of your department, I would suggest you (or anyone else) stay within the rules of your department to the greatest extent possible.

I would imagine your job with the fire department holds more importance (both long term and short term) to the well being of your family than your wife's cake decorating job. No disrespect to the baking field; I'm a huge fan of their work! If it were my family, the cakes would go undecorated and I would go to work.

John Murphy,

Sick time is a benefit that is earned through time worked.  Where I work "Family Sick" allows ou to take time off to take care of a sick family member.  That can be a child that has a cold or, in my case, my wife had breast cancer and I used sick time to care for her.

There should be no guilt felt if the usage of sick time is for a legitimate illness, whether your own or a family member's.  While it sounds cold and callous to say that staffing is the admin's job, not Jeff's, it is the truth.  For example, let's say Jeff woke up on his duty day and was vomitting and had diarhea.  Would he still go in if they were short handed?  One would hope not, first of all, he isn't fit for duty, and secondly why infect everyone else with whatever illness he has.  Would he feel guilty for using an earned benefit then?  One would hope not.  In this case he has sick children that his babysitter won't take because they are sick, again a totally legitimate reason to use a sick day.

The problem with the attitude that his FD job is more important than the cake decorating job so she should call in is this...She may have no contract, no job protectiion and calling in may very well cost her her job.  Jeff must have a contract, or an agreement of some kind giving him sick days and rules on how to use them.  As long as he follows the rules he should have no trouble at all.  Thy may give him a guilt trip when he comes back to work, big deal.  Follow the rules and generally you will be okay.  It takes a history of siick time abuse to cause problems.

You appear to be responding to my post but it sounds like we're saying pretty much the same thing. Follow the rules and act in accordance with whatever leave policy is in place and/or collective bargaining rules if applicable.

I assumed from Jeff's original post that he had requested the time and was denied. He wanted to know what to do without totally screwing himself.Based on that, I suggested that someone in his situation should go to work and have wife stay home.

We have the same problem at my department. We have 3 shifts with 14 per shift and 2 FF can take off at a time but if someone call in sick they will make the 2nd man come in or either call in before 0600 to c if anyone had call in sick. I thought the purpose of taking time off from FD was to enjoy urself with ur family or whatever. My department will not hire OT but all the other department in the city can get OT except us. No raise in seven years. If someone use sick leave, they be ready to fire them or check to c if they are at their other job. Its hard.

I assumed from Jeff's original post that he had requested the time and was denied. He wanted to know what to do without totally screwing himself


I don't see it that way. It would be one thing to request a vacation day or use comp time etc which could be denied, but sick time is a legitimate reason for taking off and a dept can't arbitrarily deny the use of sick time because they are short handed. They CAN request a doctor's excuse to verify a legitimate reason to utilize the sick time, but they can't just deny sick time. Taking care of sick family members is a legitimate reason to use sick.


Sick time is not considered time off to enjoy yourself. If the dept is not paying out OT, then you have a legitimate reason t file a suit with the Dept of Labor, because federal law mandates OT or comp time for any time worked beyond 40 hours in a work week. I'm reading this as though your dept is just denying paying OT, even when mandating people come in who are not using sick time. If tht is the case, seriously, file a suit because this is illegal for the dept to deny OT.


Same thing with the use of sick time and termination of an employee. One can not be terminated for using sick time for legitimate reasons. Now if someone is abusing sick time to work another job, then THAT can be a disciplinary offense and one could be terminated for it. However, the burden is on management to prove this is occurring. Management CAN request that sick time is verified and ask the employee to go to the doctor to get a confirmation of being sick.


With all due respect, it doesn't much matter how you see it. Or how I see it for that matter. I can only assume that Jeff's department has policies in place for sick members or sick family members. I will say that in my department, sick leave is ONLY for sick members. There are other leaves for sick family members that may or may not be approved. Generally only for seriously ill family members.

I don't think any of us should make blanket statements about policy. Every department is different. For you or anyone else to say what his department can or can't do is quite presumptious, in my opinion.

Jeff originally  stated, "I HAVE to work tomorrow and am UNABLE to take the day off". Furthermore, he asked what he could do without "completely screwing" himself. I suggested that he follow the rules of his department to the greatest extent possible (as opposed to acting on the advice of people who may work thousands of miles away).

I strongly advise members of this forum to know what their rights and responsibilities WITHIN THEIR OWN DEPARTMENT are as far as job policy, collective bargaining agreements, etc. goes.



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