I attended an LOA webinar at work this week for supervisors. It went over the different LOA types my company offers and how we need to handle things when an employee requests an LOA.
Wow! So many things to open my eyes. No, not about our LOA policy I already have a lot of experience with that with different employees and from my own research. I was surprised at what supervisors thought they could ask when someone applied for an LOA and how my company will handle some intermittent LOAs.
What really started ticking me off about this meeting was that the presenter kept using Migraines as her example. Different people would express their opinions throughout the call; not necessarily on the Migraines, but there were some things that really left my mouth wide open. This was not the place to get defensive, talk back or educate anyone. It really was not the purpose behind using these very poor examples.
At one point, the presenter used an example of how if someone in my company was on an intermittent LOA for a chronic condition like Migraines was out for three days in one week instead of the two that was filled out as their guesstimate on the doctor's portion of the FMLA form. My company would contact the doctor about the extra day taken off. They said they never believe the employee about anything and if the doctor said two days a week, that's what they use. If the employee is going to exceed that, they would need a new form filled out by the doctor.
The part of the presentation that really got under my skin was when the presenter used an example if the company wanted to get a second or third opinion on a condition for an LOA. They said if your doctor signed the form for an intermittent LOA for Migraines, the company could send you to another doctor for a second opinion. They said this second doctor could find that all you need to do is to take a couple of Tylenol to feel better and that you do not need intermittent leave. This is where the third opinion would be needed.
At this time, I was so glad my phone was on mute because I could not hold back the noise that came out of my mouth. As I said, this was not the place to give a dissertation on Migraines and what an idiotic statement that would be for a doctor to say.
I won't go into all of the questions asked by the supervisors on the phone, but some people tried to ask the same question the same and different ways many times - like can I ask the employee 'what's wrong with them'? How many different ways can you say - NO. The other popular question was if the supervisor could deny the medical leave - NO! We're not doctors.
I do realize that I have probably looked into this more than other people who were on the phone especially since I've been contemplating whether or not to apply for intermittent leave for a little while. I have the forms printed out and had decided I would make my decision by my next doctor's appointment.
The day after this LOA meeting, my team had our annual meeting with our HR Director to go over different things. She went over the leaves policy, calling in sick and how we will be getting a new sick policy in a few months, but we don't have the details yet. In her presentation, she mentioned that if someone says they are even thinking about applying for intermittent leave for different reasons, that she would take them by the shoulders and shake them to go for it for job protection reasons. I think I am leery because I'm not sure it won't be looked upon badly.
Even though it can't legally be held against you, I know there are ways around it if they really want to get rid of you even if it is just for health reasons. With everything that had gone on this week, I am still leaning toward applying for intermittent leave. Since they are revamping the absence policy, I feel I may need the job protection offered by FMLA even though my current boss is very good to me in regards to my Migraines because you never know what the future holds or the new policy.
If I go forward, I have to try to figure out a good guesstimate of the number of days per week or month that I would be out to use on the LOA form. I don't want to overestimate the number of days I will need, but I don't want my leaves department to call my doctor if I need to take more unanticipated days off either.