Catholic Charities passes paid leave policy to support employee health

Catholic Charities’ staff celebrate their new PTO for Cancer Screenings policy. Seated from left are: Brittany Dinelli, Kaylee Searor, Susan Mayer, Stephen Groh and Hannah Alton. Standing are: Tim Archer, Catholic Charities Executive Director Mary-Margaret Pekow, Brenda Slate, Kelly Thompson and Stephen Brown.

FULTON — In recognition of National Dress in Blue Day, staff at Catholic Charities of Oswego County dressed in blue to help raise awareness of colon cancer and the importance of regular cancer screenings and to celebrate their newly implemented paid time off for cancer screening policy.

Catholic Charities is not only raising community awareness for colon cancer. They also recognize the importance of a healthy workforce and have encouraged their own employees to obtain annual cancer screenings through the adoption of a paid time off for cancer screenings policy.

Catholic Charities recently announced the new policy that provides its full and part-time employees with paid time off each calendar year to undergo cancer screenings. The policy is wide ranging and may be used for any form of cancer, including but not limited to breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer or lung cancer.

“We took this as an opportunity to remind our staff not to wait to schedule their cancer screenings. They now have four to seven hours of paid time off, depending on whether they are part-time or full-time employees, to obtain their screenings outside their regular vacation and/or sick time. We are hopeful that providing time for them to use specifically for cancer screenings encourages them to focus on their health. We care about our employees and we want a healthy workforce. Early detection saves lives,” said Mary-Margaret Pekow, director of Catholic Charities.

“The new paid leave policy is really a win-win,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of the Cancer Services Program of the North Country. “Preventative cancer screenings reduce health care costs, improve employee health, and reduce related business expenditures. The paid leave policy is an excellent example of the care and concern that Catholic Charities administration and their Board of Directors have for its employees. I applaud them for passing the policy and demonstrating their commitment to employee health,” added Handville.

The Cancer Prevention in Action (CPiA) is a state Department of Health program supporting local cancer prevention and risk reduction interventions using policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change approach. Offering paid time off for cancer screenings saves money and lives. Research has shown that offering designated time off for cancer screenings increases employee screening rates and alleviates a significant barrier for employees. To learn more about implementing a paid time off for cancer screening policy in a business, contact Carolyn Handville at 315-592-0830.

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