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Planning and adjusting for extended absences

On March 16, 2023

Extended absences can be a major problem for public safety agencies, as they can result in staffing shortages and a need for reactive scheduling solutions. These absences can include things like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), military leave, parental leave, and workers compensation. These types of leaves can be difficult to plan for and can have a significant impact on the operations of a public safety agency. 



One solution to this problem is to evaluate each case individually and make decisions based on the needs of the agency. This could involve utilizing all available resources, such as posting overtime and using an automated scheduling system. Additionally, agencies can create a predetermined set of shifts that can be easily filled in the case of an extended absence. This could involve ranking shifts by priority, with the highest priority shifts being the most critical to the agency's operations.


Another solution is to have enough staff to cover for absences, and shuffling the schedule around to cover the absences. Depending on the number of staff on leave and the duration of their absence, agencies may also consider doing a new shift bid to fill the open shifts with new hires. For more on the nuances of building schedules, check out our public safety scheduling series  to see how many departments manage scheduling.


Also, agencies can start building relationships with other departments and cross-training staff. This could provide a valuable buffer in case of extended absences and help to ensure that the agency is able to continue its operations. However, it is important to keep in mind that cross-training staff may come with the added challenge of keeping up with required training for both departments for an extended period of time.


In conclusion, extended absences can be a significant problem for public safety agencies and can result in staffing shortages and a need for reactive scheduling solutions. It's important to have a well-established protocol to handle extended absences, as it can help to minimize disruptions to the agency's operations, and ensure that public safety is not compromised.



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