Difficult FMLA circumstance

My pregnant employee went out early for a medical procedure that needed to be done before her delivery. We were very clear on how to handle each instance, and that we needed paperwork, which we never received. We sent her the FMLA eligibility letter.
She has been out for three weeks, during most of which my benefits manager has spent trying unsuccessfully to reach her. We just heard back from her on Friday that she lost the baby and there will be no claim, by which she means that she doesn't want to submit paperwork and is willing to use her vacation time until she returns. She is depressed and hasn't reached out to anyone at work, including her boss. I just tried her and call went to voicemail.
What would you do next? She is going to run out of vacation time this week after which her pay goes to zero. She is eligible for company-paid FMLA leave but not without documentation. I have some leeway here but not much. She has said she cannot afford unpaid leave, and I don't want to make a bad situation worse, but there is only so much I can do.


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • First, I would recommend being very assertive about counting this time toward FML, at least the unpaid kind. It sounds as if your employer is very generous by offering paid FML, but even if the employee doesn't want that, I would make sure this time off was categorized as FML so it can be included in her 12 weeks.

    I know hindsight is 20/20, and you've given her ample opportunity to provide the required documentation, but... This is a great example of the pitfalls of not getting the paperwork returned before the employee goes out on leave. There is an excellent chance your employee is unable to make rational decisions in her bests interests right now, given what she's been through. I get the impression you have bent over backwards to keep the door open for her, and I would continue to do that.
  • You are so right, Frank, it's a great example. I can happily say that mostly we are on top of these situations, but this is one of those instances where we started notification well in advance of the event, but ran up against an employee who dragged her feet about informing us of her pregnancy, meeting with us when we requested, etc. etc.

    Re: FMLA categorization, I can be determined, but if ultimately she doesn't supply documentation our policy says it's not FMLA leave. Are you suggesting waiving that requirement in this instance?
  • I would advocate waiving the documentation requirement as well, as you have enough info to reasonably make a decision.
  • The alternative to FMLA could be termination.

    Of course I'm not suggesting you terminate her... But FMLA exists to protect her job. If she doesn't want to use it, then her job is not protected. You might just need to explain it to her like this: "We understand why you've been out, and we want you to have the time you need to recover. But the FMLA paperwork protects everyone involved from having to explain why you were out and why we held your job. We've made it fairly simple to complete - I just need it back by __ /__ /__ ."
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