Saturday, November 20, 2010

"For those who are really sick"

I attended a webinar earlier in the week and felt it was necessary to go to a repeat showing at the end of the week. No, not because I thought it was one of the best presentations I'd ever seen, but because the first webinar infuriated me so much that I wanted to make sure I heard what I thought was said.

We have been having these LOA webinars on a monthly basis. For the most part, they are really informative and I only had an exception once before when they used Migraines as a stupid example to get a point across. This month's webinar was simple or so I thought. It was to go over the changes in our LOA policies that are going into effect for next year.

So what has me all worked up? There are changes being made to our intermittent FMLA policy. What got me upset was the way the Presenter Lady talked about the changes and in my opinion put down Migraines. Intermittent FMLA is not required by law to be paid. My company is going to pay for x number of leave days which really is awesome.

The Presenter Lady said that Migraines will still be approved for intermittent leave, but will only be paid for the x days. She went on to say that the original intent of the leave was to protect associates dealing with time off due to serious health conditions like cancer or chemo. It's for those who are really sick. She actual said that with the limit to the number of paid days, maybe those who aren't really sick will make an effort to come into work.

Like the first meeting a few months back where I felt Migraine disease was abused too, I didn't say anything. This was not the time, place or audience to say or educate anyone about Migraines. I did attend this webinar twice and she is going to hold it two more times. I thought she toned it down a little more during the second presentation, but still put across the message to the supervisors that Migraine is not a serious health condition and employees should make every effort to make it into work.

We know how Migraines are abused in ERs and how we pay the consequences because of that and I'm sure Migraines are also abused by many who have an approved FMLA. I definitely believe there was a line crossed during this webinar in a similar way like we are treated in the ERs because of the abusers. I also realize that if the shoe doesn't fit, we shouldn't try to put it on, but this was a broad stoke put down of Migraines and Migraineurs that I don't think I can let pass.

I think what gets me even more upset is that this webinar was just five days after I finally used my FMLA for the first time after having it for a few months. If you know me, you know I struggle with doing the right thing for myself vs my responsibilities. Many times I make the wrong decision which only hurts me more in the end. I am working hard at that, but things like this, do not help me take better care of myself.

Do they really want me to 'make an effort to come into work' when I can't think, slur or stutter my words and mix my letters up when I write or type words? Am I really representing my company the way I would want to? The way they would want me to as long as I made this effort to come into work because I don't have a 'serious health condition'? I didn't even mention the pain and the way we may react to things when our pain levels are up and tolerances are down.

I have a new education project now. I hope I will have calmed down enough to respond in a professional manner whereas I would not have if I reacted right after the first webinar. We finally received word of where our office will be moving to next year. As luck would have it, we will be moving into the same building as Presenter Lady.

I will need to have my initial response about this last webinar to her early next week. I really can't let it go any longer than that without doing anything. I have to gather some statistics to give her a base of how Migraines can be a serious health condition and will include some of my personal work experiences, but I don't want to overwhelm or lose her in the process either. I don't want Migraines to be abused in future webinars and hope a little education will help with that.

I'd like to ask for some of your help too, if possible. I need some good statistics to share with Presenter Lady. This would be a big help since I am limited to the amount of time I will be able to spend on-line this weekend. It's been a tough week and I don't want to wait too long to inform her about the true impact of Migraines. I really appreciate any assistance you can give.



WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I think some of the reasons Migraines are attacked is because it is:
1) a common disorder (there are millions of sufferers) that most supervisors have experience with
2) many labor hours are lost because of it (not due to gold bricking behavior but due to true disabling effects of the disorder)
3) women are the primary sufferers (somehow women are perceived as less diserving of disability)
4) the presenter herself is not the one who would be asking the employee "are you really sick" when using intermittant FMLA. I personally as a supervisor never asked that - it was not my role. I never ever ever encouraged an employee to work sick.

Most of my employees I had to watch and say - you don't look well, should you be at work? Can you even drive? Should we call somebody? BECAUSE they are like you and would work regardless. I do it to myself even to this day. but HR always always always looks at the opposite because they are there to save the company money. That is how they justify their own jobs. They are definitely not employee advocates for the most part. There are exceptions but they are rare.

I'll try and see if I can round up some stats as I did a presentation for a human resource class on FMLA and migaines a few years ago....but not sure if I kept it on THIS Pc...

MigrainePuppet said...

I think you are right. I have a hard time not saying something and just don't want to sound like a babbling idiot. I've seen the stats a hundred times and am having a hard time putting my hands on them.

I never ask my employees any questions about their sickness when they call even if they don't have iFMLA. Presenter Lady told a lot of the supervisors in earlier webinars that they couldn't ask any questions when their employees called in or while they were filling out their portion of the leave paperwork. I just don't like the way she keeps cutting down Migraines and feel I need to do something.

Thank you for your help!