Prison guard sick calls down this Super Bowl, but still 'disturbingly high'

Prison guard sick calls down this Super Bowl, but still 'disturbingly high'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The number of prison guards across the state scheduled to work on Super Bowl Sunday who called in sick declined slightly this year, but the absence rate was still nearly a third.

The state Public Safety Department said about 31 percent of corrections officers called in sick Feb. 7. On Super Bowl Sunday last year, 35 percent of them did not report to work.

The prisons chief attributed the slight improvement to the fact that more than 100 guard vacancies were filled last year, but admits there is still a long way to go.

"It's a disturbingly high number. And we're going to work consistently with the union and the employees themselves to improve that," said Nolan Espinda, the state public safety director.

"We're going to constantly monitor our attendance program, we're going to assure that people are appropriately using family leave and we're going to ask them to be considerate of their co-workers in rearranging their schedule, when possible, ahead of time."

Waiawa Correctional Facility had the highest percentage of guards who called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday; 63 percent of those scheduled to work stayed home.

At Halawa prison, 41 percent of the guards called in sick, followed by Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo, which reported 40 percent and the women's prison in Kailua had 39 percent of its guards call in sick two Sundays ago.

The department is working to fill another 50 correctional officer vacancies, Espinda said.

"The end result of that is more people working, less overtime and programs running on a regular basis," Espinda added.

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