Showing posts with label outsourcing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outsourcing. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2015

MARTA to outsource absence management

On Sept. 3, MARTA’s Board of Directors authorized a contract with UPMC (University of Pennsylvania Medical Corp.) WorkPartners to manage MARTA’s short- and long-term sick leave, as well as family and medical leave, at a cost of $1.7 million over a three-year period for the transit system.

The 8 to 0 vote reflects the Atlanta transit system’s frustration over the in-house handling of its leave policies. The Board hopes that outsourcing absence management to a private company will cut costs through closer oversight of leave usage.

With added scrutiny, “the people beating the system right now will come to the forefront, and we’ve got a lot of people beating the system,” said Freda B. Hardage, a Fulton County representative on the MARTA Board.

According to the story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the goal of outsourcing management of leave is to nearly double, from 8 percent to 15 percent, the percentage of requests for unplanned absence claims that are currently denied.

The newspaper is reporting that MARTA had been spending $3.1 million a year to manage different types of employee leave internally, including vacation, sick leave and disability programs. On any given day, one in three MARTA employees is absent from work because of an unplanned event. And for bus drivers, maintenance workers or train operators, that absence rate exceeds 50 percent.

In 2012, a consultant’s audit found the high rate of call-outs cost MARTA about $11 million a year. Another assessment by a separate consultant late last year found that those costs are rising. Unplanned absences now account for $13.6 million in MARTA’s budget.

A recent assessment by Sagewell Partners found that unplanned absences are costing MARTA 598,923 total lost work hours, equivalent to the work time of 291 full-time employees and about 6 percent of the transit agency’s overall payroll costs.

FMLA leave policy is so complicated that outside vendors are increasingly being brought in to manage these programs, said Phil LaPorte, a labor relations expert and professor emeritus at Georgia State University College of Law.

“They have greater expertise in dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, and they can spend the time to require the medical verification of the condition the employee is alleging,” LaPorte said.