Saturday, May 22, 2010

Intermittent Leave

As a precautionary measure, I've considered applying for intermittent FMLA for a while because of Migraines. The biggest problem I see with me applying for this is that I try to work through most of my Migraine attacks and don't take off as much sick time as I should or need to take off.

I actually had a conversation with my boss about a month or two ago where I mentioned what I was thinking about with this to him. He seemed a little surprised about it as he said he gives me whatever latitude I need. He does and is really good about things like that even though I don't take any advantage of it. I responded to him that he definitely does; much more than any manager I have had previously. He knows some of the struggles I've had with my old managers even though they weren't Migraine related. I also told him that we never know what the future holds or what changes may be in store for us, but I really appreciate how much he does work with me on things.

Now with that said, at the end of last week, I was in a meeting with a bunch of managers and our HR Director. She mentioned that there is a new sick time policy coming out corporate wide that affects everyone. It has to do with counting every single 'unplanned' absence an employee has. In my imagination, this would include the times I leave early because of Migraine since it is an unplanned absence for at least part of the day.

This policy is the part of the 'never know what the future holds or what changes are in store for us' that I was talking about to my boss. Although I try to stay optimistic, I don't know what the future of my Migraines holds for me. Again, although I haven't taken off much time this year because of my Migraines, I have left early, should not have been at work on a few occasions and don't know how tomorrow will look. How can you plan time off for Migraines?

As you can already tell, I have been interested in intermittent FMLA already, but am more piqued by it now even though I don't know exactly what is going on with the new policy. During the meeting, the HR Director talked about different leaves not counting against the policy and even mentioned intermittent FMLA although she had only heard of it being used for chemotherapy. (Great, another area I would need to be a ground breaker in...) I haven't decided what to do yet, but I am nervous about this new policy that I don't have the detail around yet. Just to stress an understanding around intermittent FMLA, I posed the 'question' in the meeting about any absences covered by an Intermittent FMLA leave wouldn't count as an occurrence. Of course she agreed.

I don't think I call out much now because I've always been scared of losing my job and have been second guessing this decision about applying for intermittent FMLA for sometime now. Do you think I would have problems getting intermittent FMLA if I don't call out of work too often now?

I have a history of my Migraine charts going back to January of 2007 when I started charting them. These charts show a graph of all of my Migraines since that time along with a trend line. I think this would help show any patterns my Migraines have followed since then and my current doctor has all of these charts. It's funny how she looks forward to my new graphs with every visit.

My work knows about my Migraines and has even made job accommodations for me. I would not be able to work at work without these. My boss is aware of some times when I was not as effective at work as I should be because of my Migraines although he has no clue as to how often I actually have Migraine attacks. I fight hard to be as 'normal' as I can be, but also know this can be detrimental to me in more ways than one.

Do you think I would have problems getting approved for intermittent FMLA if I don't call out of work too often now? I don't know that I really need it, but I don't know that I can really afford to be without it.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I had employees with intermittent FMLA for many chronic conditions, because we had an absenteeism policy that counted off as you described. This included fibromyalgia, migraine, sciatica, lupus, cancer, scolliosis, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, heart trouble and alcoholism.

If you have a good doctor it is not difficult to get them to sign the paperwork. Sometimes you have to assure them they are not saying you are permanently "disabled" that this is just paperwork to cover your doctor appointments and times you can't work with a migraine so you won't get fired.

This protects you from disciplinary action for unplanned or planned time off. Generally HR doesn't argue with a doctor, after all they don't have the education or the training to say what is what. The umbrella of FMLA is for all chronic and acute health problems, not "just" chemotherapy. Some policies allow the maximum FMLA per condition, some only allow the maximum FMLA per year for all conditions combined. The federal law is not clear.

MigrainePuppet said...

Thanks Winny. I know I would feel better having this added layer of protection if I needed it, but also fear it exposes me more.

I believe my doctor would sign it and if she didn't want to or didn't understand that it wasn't for permanent disability, then she would not be the right doctor for me. Plus during my last visit with her, she more than willingly signed a medical exemption form for my state to apply for window tinting on my car if I decide to go that route so she definitely has worked with me.

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

MP: Sounds like you have a great doc who understand how disabling these headaches are!!

I know that it just makes you feel really vulnerable, instead of reassured. I have seen workplace politics work against people in our position before so I understand.

Just know if work discriminates or even seems to discriminate based on disability not only do you have FMLA but the ADA (Americans with disability Act) and other fair employment laws to back you up. I think your workplace is going to be OK with this, as they have already been very accomodating about making changes about your disability! That's a very good indicator!

MigrainePuppet said...

My doc is also a Migraineur and I think that helps with the understanding.

I would feel vulnerable and reassured at the same time around FMLA. My company and especially my immediate boss have been good about my Migraines, but I also have concerns like the one I wrote about in 'Migraine Layoff?' where I still believe a co-worker in one of our other divisions was layed off because of her Migraines. In this scenario, FMLA couldn't protect you even and would be hard to prove.