Agenda Index City of Vancouver


Date: October 14, 1997

Dept. File No. clrk_at2

C.C. File: 1377

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: Assistant Fire Chief Support Services

SUBJECT: Attendance Management: Staffing Requirement


THAT Council approve the addition of one regular full-time clerical position to support the Fire Department’s administrative program, subject to job evaluation by the Director of Human Resources. Ongoing funding for this position (estimated at $37,000) will be added to the Operating Budget and 1997 funding (estimated at $7,000) will be from Contingency Reserve.


The General Manager of Fire and Rescue Services RECOMMENDS approval of the foregoing.


The City Manager notes that far more than the required budget offsets for this position have been achieved using temporary staff, and the addition of this position will protect those savings.

The City Manager RECOMMENDS approval of the above recommendation.


Council has adopted a policy whereby departments and boards are required to identify expenditure reductions or related revenue increases in non-tax revenue, to offset the costs associated with requests for increased staff or enhanced programs.


The purpose of this report is to seek Council’s approval for the addition of a clerical position to support the department’s administrative program including attendance management.


Employee absenteeism within the City has been identified as a major concern by the Corporate Management Team because of the direct and indirect costs to the organization. In response to this concern Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services has actively pursued initiatives to better manage attendance. Working with Human Resourse Services staff, the department participated in a pilot program beginning in 1995 which has led to development of a corporate attendance management program. The pilot programs concentrated on two specific attendance management areas: work-related injuries (WCB); and non-work related absences (sick leave).

Work-related absences and sick leave impact directly on the department’s operating budget and the results of these programs have been dramatic both in terms of their effectiveness in ensuring absences are kept to a minimum and in reducing the costs associated with absences. The following table summarizes the improvements realized since 1995.






Sick Time Hours





Overtime Costs





WCB Premiums





The most significant accomplishment of the program is the reduction in hours lost to sick time. In one year, the attendance management program contributed to a 25% reduction in time lost to sickness.

In addition to the potential savings identified above, the reduction in lost time has immediate impacts on the department’s expenditures because, in the case of every shift lost to an absence, overtime or "extra shift" costs are incurred. The 1997 budget for overtime, at $182,000, represents just 35% of the expenditures in 1995, a reduction that is primarily attributed to the introduction of attendance management programs.

The department has also been able to reduce its WCB premium expenditures as a result of attendance management by ensuring employees return to work in a timely manner. Since 1995, these costs have been reduced by $275,000. These savings not only represent savings of lost time, but savings of WCB administration costs as well.

The savings indicated above were identified during budget preparation in 1996 and 1997 and have been removed from the departmental appropriation. In 1996 and 1997, $337,000 was removed from the budget and applied to the Budget Management Program. A further $275,000 was removed to reflect reduced WCB premiums paid by the department.


The development of attendance management programs at VF&RS has benefited the department, the employees and the operating budget. However, resources to develop and administer this program have been taken from other priorities and, in order to continue to generate the benefits of this program, an additional clerical position is essential. The department is currently utilizing temporary help funding intended to provide vacation, training, compassionate leave and sick leave coverage for civilian staff at the department. This portion of the department’s budget is currently overspent. Permanent funding can be justified on the basis of the savings that have already been achieved from the program.

Creating a new regular position also has the advantage of bringing a level of consistency to the work. The key to the success of this program is the integrity of the information in the database. As temporary staff tend to migrate to permanent positions, the department has experienced a high level of turnover and training requirements. This will also help to address concerns expressed by CUPE 15 about the number of temporary staff used by the department.


The approval of this position would increase the civilian staffing level of the department by one clerical position.

The position will be subject to classification by the Director of Human Resources.


The estimated ongoing cost of the additional position is approximately $37,000 annually. The cost for the balance of the 1997 budget year is requested from the Contingency Reserve. In subsequent years additional ongoing funding of $37,000 will be required in the department’s annual budget. As a result of the budget reductions already taken, the department is unable to appropriate further offsets for the requested position, however, if not provided, continuation of the savings already achieved will be jeopardized.

The Comptroller of Budgets and Research has reviewed this report and confirms the budget reductions indicated.


For this program to remain efficient and effective there must be administrative assistance. While the current use of temporary staff has met the immediate needs of the department, there is a need for ongoing support to provide assistance in maintaining the integrity and stability in this administrative program.

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