President Preckwinkle today announces a request for proposal (RFP) for a third-party administered absence and leave management program at Cook County with the goal of improving labor allocation and cost control.

The county is seeking vendor support to assist in managing sick time, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requests, worker’s compensation, and ordinary disability. This is the first time the county has initiated a comprehensive, streamlined and centralized process for absence management. The President’s Office worked with the Cook County Health and Hospital System (CCHHS), the Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Forest Preserve District, the Cook County Pension Fund and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to develop and issue this RFP.

“We decided to issue this RFP to make sure all county offices are held accountable, for the first time, to a uniform set of performance standards that includes absence management,” President Preckwinkle said. “We collaborated with other stakeholders in this effort, and believe that we are on the right path to further improve county culture and employee productivity.”

Absence management is a key aspect of the president’s Set Targets Achieve Results (STAR) program. Managing employee absence is critical to achieving county performance goals, treating workers fairly, increasing productivity, and ensuring compliance with state and federal laws. For example, in fiscal year 2011, the county logged an average of more than six sick hours per employee, per month while the Department of Labor benchmark for a unionized workforce is 3.6 hours.

In response to absence management concerns countywide, the President’s Office launched an overtime and FMLA taskforce in spring 2011. The task force included the Sheriff’s Office, CCHHS, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court, with the goal of identifying and collaborating around issues, potential solutions and best practices involving FMLA leave. Through this initiative and using data collected from STAR, the task force determined a wholistic absence management RFP was the best course of action.

“The Sheriff’s Office has been proactive in finding solutions regarding absence management issues and has implemented internal programs to assist in the overall management of attendance, productivity and overtime,” said Sheriff Tom Dart. “We are pleased to have collaborated with the Cook County President’s Office in this initiative and our expectations are that this system, in conjunction with the policies and programs the Sheriff’s Office has already implemented, will better assist our employees, with the end result being increased service to the citizens of Cook County.”

RFP vendors are being asked to provide a “one-stop-shop” call center for all county related absence reporting and tracking. This would include a centrally managed absence program and a streamlined process that offers more uniformity. The RFP is in addition to initiatives President Preckwinkle has already instituted within her administration. Last week, the president launched a countywide wellness program, Spring Into Health!, that encourages employees to make positive lifestyle choices. Studies have shown that health risks decrease after the implementation of a worksite wellness program which, in turn, leads to reduced absenteeism. And since February, the President’s Office has been running an internal pilot program that helps managers identify absence profiles of their employees and take proactive measures to curb abuse. The program provides supervisors a series of reports with updated information on employee absences, along with target goals that improve or surpass that of previous years. The pilot program ends in May and will be rolled out to all departments this summer.

Cook County consists of approximately 96 agencies, commissioners’ offices and bureaus. Workers’ Compensation is managed centrally for the county in the Risk Management department. Ordinary Disability is managed centrally by the Cook County Pension Office. FMLA and sick time administration are managed at the department and entity level. Currently, more than 80% of the county budget goes to pay the wages and benefits to county personnel.

RFP applications are due back from vendors in May. The goal is to have a contract and vendor in place by early fall 2012, with implementation scheduled for April 2013.

For more information, call the Procurement Officer at 312-603-5370, or click here for more on doing business with Cook County.


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