FMLA or Not (Paperwork MIA)

Hey Folks - Got a weird one. We have an employee who accidentally shot themselves in the hand while cleaning a gun (at 5:30am...who knows why anyone would clean a gun at that time of day) back in June sometime. The employee was treated in the ER and was told he would need to take off some time to allow the hand to recover.

The facility he works for contacted Human Resources to determine if this was an FMLA qualifying event. We sent paperwork and told the employee to have his doctor complete the forms and we'd make a determination. However, the employee stated his physician would not complete the paperwork, stating they couldn't. Evidently, he was continuing to go back to the ER instead of a family physician or specialist. We redirected him to a clinic, but he indicated he was going to try a Free clinic, but it would take some time to get in for an appointment. It has been over a month and a half and we have no paperwork.

The employee was actually released to return to work on July 5th, with no restrictions, but after several weeks he went back for a follow-up and the ER wasn't happy with the way his healing was progressing, so they put him on restrictions of not lifting more than 10lbs. His essential functions of the job are such that he must continually lift in excess of 10lbs, and we do not have light duty for him, so he is back off work and we still have no paperwork.

Ultimately, the injury was not life threatening which makes me question whether or not this would have constituted a 'serious' health condition, but I wanted to leave that up to a physician, but the employee has been uncooperative in getting an appointment and getting us the paperwork. The facility would like to terminate as they were already having huge performance issues with him, combined with not following instructions for returning the requirement paperwork, which has him in violation of the absentee policy.

Any advice? Thanks


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Check your past practices. If in the past you have allowed FMLA to employees who have failed to turn in paperwork, IMO, you should allow this one also. And, I'm going out on a limb here, other forumites, feel free to chime in. I believe FMLA allows your company to get your own opinion at company expense. If it were me, I would make an appointment for the employee with the doctor your company normally uses, being sure the doctor has the medical certification at the time of the appointment. If the ee fails to keep the appointment, follow your normal disciplinary guidelines.
  • [I][B]If I assume[/B][/I] that you have not allowed employees to take FMLA without the paperwork in the past and that you have a clear and well communicated attendence policy, I don't think I would go for the second opinion. We ask for a second opinion only if we have doubts about the illness or the release back to work. A wound on the hand should be pretty obvious.

    We send out a final letter by certified mail that gives a specific deadline to bring in the paperwork and outlining consequences if the employee fails to do so. In your case, I would send out the final deadline letter, specifying all the times he has been asked for the paperwork, and reminding him that without it the leave is not protected. I would point out that not returning the paperwork as requested is failure to follow rules and procedures, and that if his leave is not protected he is out of compliance with our attendence rules. Finally, I would let him know that failure to return the paperwork by the deadline will result in his termination for not following our attendence rules. You should also put in a blurb about calling you if he has questions. Be sure and be very clear about what will happen if he does call you, and you should document the conversation for future reference.

    Joannie is extremely knowledgable and experienced, so I hate to disagree with her opinion. I am sure either one of our ideas will work for you. Good luck!
  • Just ask yourself... What's the worst thing that can happen if I terminate someone who is careless with firearms?

  • Definitely agree that a 2nd opinion should only be used when we doubt the certification or the illness. I think the certified letter is definitely the way to go. Thanks for the input!!

    Also agree that mishandling the gun makes me wonder if they will mishandle a patient!! Thanks for the laugh, Frank!!
  • [quote=NaeNae55;722728]

    Joannie is extremely knowledgable and experienced, so I hate to disagree with her opinion. I am sure either one of our ideas will work for you. Good luck![/quote]

    Nae, you really weren't disagreeing with me. I didn't make myself clear. I would only seek our doctor's opinion if I had always required certification in the past.
  • I think I'd go the certified letter route, stating if they don't provide certification by "x" date, leave will be denied and they will be expected to return to work/abide by attendance policy/be terminated/etc.