Attendance Issues - help please

Hi there, I hope someone can help.  We have a fairly new employee (3 months) and she has called out of work a total of 9 days so far.  Each occurrence however is either accompanied by a doctor's note or some other documentation.  We are aware she has a medical condition and recently she announced she is pregnant.  The problem is the department is now suffering as her co-workers must take on her workload in addition to their own, clients are upset and complaining, and the department is becoming bitter.  What can we do here?  How do we discipline someone for excessive absences when there is always a doctor's note?  We all feel bad for her but the company is suffering because of it.  Any suggestions?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


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  • This can be a tricky topic. You have quite a few options to look at 1) What does your company attendance policy state? What rights do your new employees have during their probabtionary period or is there one? You also fail to mention whether you are a state or private agency, this too makes a difference. If you are fortunate enough to have a legal department, you may want to consult with them.

    You may need to ensure that she does not qualify for ADA and if so, then you only need make a reasonable accommodation for her if this does not pose an undue hardship which it sounds like it does. Your employee is not under FMLA protection and thereby you do not have any obligations to maintain her job, Dr's note or note. Her physician's notes only provide documentation that she was under his/her care for a certain period of time.

    Her absences are an issue regardless of the reason because she does not qualify for FMLA. You need to meet with her and follow the progressive steps and unfortunately if she continues to be absent, then you have grounds to dismiss her. It would be different if your office could handle the inconvenience but it sounds like they can't. The fact that she is pregnant is of no consequence as it seems her absences were a problem prior to her announcement. This is not a case of pregnancy discrimination and pregnancy related leaves of absence again fall under FMLA provisions.

     Good luck with that.

  • This is really a matter for your attendance policy.  It's an example of one reason why many companys have gone to no-fault attendance policies.  As long as you are in the business of excusing absences, you will be susceptible to this issue.  I'm not saying the employee isn't ill or that she did not have appropriate reasons for taking that time off.  I'm saying that excusing absences puts you in a bind because there is no limit to the end of absences that can be had.  Doctors will write notes in their patients' best interests.  A side effect is that anytime someone is willing to take a mental health break by paying their co-pay, they get a day off from work AND your health insurance use goes up.
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