Staff Vacation Time Usage and Merit Increases for 2020

Staff Vacation Time Usage and Merit Increases for 2020

As a follow-up to Dr. Mihaljevic’s video message about merit increases, please find additional information that also addresses vacation usage and the importance of resuming services.

As a result of the pandemic, the care for many patients with non-COVID disorders was deferred and our overall clinical activity decreased significantly. This has resulted in a significant financial impact to our institution. All hospitals and provider organizations throughout the U.S. have been similarly affected. Unlike many other organizations, however, we have not resorted to furloughs, layoffs, or a reduction in pay or benefits.

At the same time, we must look at other ways to reduce and defer expenses. For the first time since the effects of the 2007-09 recession, Cleveland Clinic is suspending merit increases in 2020 for all caregivers and staff. This was not an easy decision, but a necessary one to continue the commitment to preserve jobs and compensation.

Together, all staff will shoulder this responsibility. Those who receive their Annual Performance Review (APR) in Q2, Q3, and Q4 will be affected this year. Those staff who recently received increases in Q1 2020, will be affected in Q1 2021.

As our services resume, we expect the demand will also increase throughout the remainder of the year. In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, it is extremely important that we provide access to fully meet the needs of our patients. This is our mission, and it also allows us to restore financial resources that are important to meeting our goals in clinical care, research and education.

We must avoid a situation in which physician staffing is a barrier to fully meeting the increased demand for our services, especially when we expect that demand might be at its greatest during the last few months of the year. While understandable during the pandemic, it is of concern, that the use of vacation days through April has been about 25% less than during a usual year, thereby leaving more days to be used in the remaining eight months.

In order to meet the needs of our patients and ensure business continuity, we believe that the use of vacation time needs to be structured for the remainder of 2020. We are requiring staff to utilize no more than one-third of their total 2020 vacation day allotment in the last third of the year — from September 1 through December 31. In addition, currently banked prior year vacation days will not be able to be utilized during the remainder of 2020. Staff will be able to roll over unused 2020 vacation days according to current rules into 2021 (i.e., maximum of 10 days rolled over, up to the existing bank limitation).

If these new requirements cause undue disruption to personal plans, please discuss with your department/institute leadership. Reasonable exceptions may be allowed if your team is able to make adjustments needed to fully meet the needs of your patients.

These changes do not apply to the use of the Personal Day or Well-Being Day, which can be used at any point in the year with proper notification and approval.

The 90-day notification period is suspended for absence requests submitted for May through August 31. However, absences need to be granted in a manner that minimizes impact on patient care.

Thank you for your flexibility as we continually adjust to evolving patient and organizational needs during these unprecedented times. Please refer to these FAQs for more information.

Merit increase program suspended in 2020 due to financial losses of COVID-19

Merit increase program suspended in 2020 due to financial losses of COVID-19

Hospitals and health systems are at the center of a historic global pandemic. They postponed nonessential health services to prepare for a surge of patients with COVID-19. Meanwhile, hospitals extended their supply chains to stock an unprecedented amount of life-preserving supplies and protective equipment.

These factors are contributing to financial losses for our industry. As an organization, Cleveland Clinic embraces its responsibility to lead through these times because it is the right thing to do. We have no plans to reduce caregiver pay or positions — and at the same time, we look at other ways where we can reduce and defer expenses.

For the first time since the effects of the 2007–09 recession, Cleveland Clinic is suspending its merit increase program for 2020.

How a pandemic has impacted American workers

As caregivers, we are aware of how this pandemic has caused real suffering for those who are ill, their families and communities.

The financial fallout has also been devastating.

  • 1.4 million U.S. healthcare workers became unemployed in April
  • 36.5 million Americans have suffered unemployment since March
  • Many hospitals have reduced pay, instituted furloughs and/or cut retirement benefits

It’s why getting through this together as a team is so important. No decisions are perfect or welcomed by everyone. Yet we support them as necessary actions so that we may all move forward to a healthier future.

COVID-19 will come to define the year 2020. It does not change our commitment to caregivers. We will continue to reinvest in you and your families.

Our Employee Health Plan provides life-changing care at the most affordable costs. Our retirement plan programs remain well funded to support your long-term financial goals. These benefits create lasting health and well-being.

Thank you for answering a call to serve our patients and communities in their greatest time of need. We will get through this pandemic together as a team.

We Are Making a Shared Sacrifice to Get Through This Pandemic As One Team

We Are Making a Shared Sacrifice to Get Through This Pandemic As One Team

Fellow Caregivers,

We have worked hard to navigate this pandemic as one family. Our response has been marked by continual action, teamwork and heroism.

In doing so, Cleveland Clinic is addressing the many unforeseen challenges of COVID-19.

We have all seen the headlines. The country is facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Entire industries have already endured permanent changes, many of which are now coming into focus.

I know the magnitude of this situation is not lost on you. And yet, we need to put it into context as we approach the future.

COVID-19 has caused real suffering for patients and their families. Others have sacrificed timely care. We will never lose sight of this.

The pandemic has also created financial complexities we must address.

Healthcare organizations answered a call to serve our communities.

We postponed nonessential care to preserve hospital beds. We extended our supply chains to purchase an unprecedented amount of equipment and supplies. We prepared for the worst case scenario, transforming buildings into surge hospitals, like our own Hope Hospital.

We did all of this because it was our responsibility. And while our industry has received some federal financial assistance, it does not buffer us from financial losses that require action.

  • Many United States hospitals have reduced pay, furloughed workers and cut benefits.
  • In April, 1.4 million healthcare workers became unemployed in the United States.
  • One in five Americans are now unemployed, and their health insurance is in jeopardy.

At Cleveland Clinic, we have committed to getting through this as a team. We are protecting jobs and not reducing pay.

Doing this takes a shared sacrifice by all of us in the organization.

For these reasons, we are not able to increase our salaries at this time. We have made the difficult and necessary decision to suspend merit increases in 2020.

We are all using a portion of our paid time off in the coming months. This will ensure adequate staffing when clinical service levels return to normal. It will also reduce the financial liability of unused time off.

Finally, we have delayed some capital and growth projects that require significant funding. This includes the hospital in Mentor, and the Neurological Institute building on main campus, just to name a few.

I understand these are difficult announcements and I appreciate your support. Please know that everyone is doing their part.

We are asking leaders to consider what controllable expenses can be reduced, and reminding everyone to be good stewards of Cleveland Clinic resources. We will treat this organization as our home.

COVID-19 will come to define the year 2020. It does not change our investment in you.

We continue to offer many benefits that create long-term health and prosperity. We have preserved jobs.

In return, please show your understanding, flexibility and support as we navigate this once in a lifetime pandemic together.

Everyone is affected by this situation in different ways. Respect each other as you process this news. At the same time, be professional and productive in how you express yourselves.

We are all on the same team. We are all in this together.

COVID-19 is here to stay in our lives for the foreseeable future. We will work as One Cleveland Clinic to care for patients, each other and our communities.

Thank you for your dedication to our mission.

Dr. Mijahlevic |  Cleveland Clinic

Tom Mihaljevic, MD
CEO and President