FMLA? I'm so confused

Here's the scenario. We have a manager that has a legal substance abuse problem (read: alcohol). I know for sure because I know him personally. Management here knows it too but won't address it. My hands are tied. This employee also claims to have a medical problem, although he states that all tests have come back negative and they don't know what is causing his problems. I'm sure his doctor doesn't know about the substance abuse problem otherwise the doctor would surely do something to see that this person gets help.

Last Monday the employee was scheduled for a day of vacation. On Tuesday they called in stating their power was out and they would not be in; Wednesday they called to say they were sick; Thursday they called saying their son was sick; and Friday they merely said "calling off".

Today the person is not here again but did not call in. They called another person, telling the other person they were going to be contacting their doctor and wouldn't be in to work today.

I'm so confused. Based on the messages I'm getting from last week, I don't really know why this person isn't coming to work. Should I send out FML paperwork based on today's message and start the clock ticking from today? Also know that in our company when a person reaches the end of their 12 weeks FML we do nothing to them. I don't even know why I go through the motions sometimes.

This isn't a great way to start off my week and I am very frustrated at this point so any help you could provide would be very welcome. Thanks.


  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I have good news for you! Stop fretting and stop trying to decide how you are going to save this employee/friend. Go into the manager's office, shut the door and say, "OK, what are we going to do?" Let management decide. HR can handle the legal ramifications and technicalities; but, it sounds to me as if this is one for management to make a decision on.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • While you may be frustrated you still need to protect your company. Review your attendance policy (if you have one). Is this an attendance problem or an FML problem? If the ee needs FMLA get that ball rolling -- you may also want to review how alcholism is handled under the ADA. Also do you have an EAP to refer your employee-friend to?
  • Thanks for your comments but my question is, when do I start the FML clock ticking based on the above information? Or do I? This employee has not contacted me directly so all I'm getting is heresay. We have no attendance policy and I am not trying to protect this individual. I would like to see them get some help. Unfortunately the situation is out of my hands and in the hands of management who will probably do nothing. I am only trying to protect myself by wondering if this is FML at this point based on the little information and heresay I have. Thanks.
  • If you are serious about FMLA and following through, you are obligated to send the paperwork since the ee has missed three days and you know or suspect it's due to illness or will be claimed as such. I'm hoping you have the policy posted and in handbooks and the employees have general knowledge of the program and how to utilize it.

    If you approve the paperwork, assuming you ever get it in the first place, the clock starts on the first day of absence covered by the doctor's statement on the form.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • First of all, make sure your personal knowledge of this individual does not overlap with your job. Pretend you know nothing except what you know or have been told on the job (excluding gossip.) You cannot bring off time social knowledge into the workplace unless it brings itself. I have known alcoholics in denial who perfomed well at work but could not walk a straight line at home. It's the office behavior that counts - performance issues.

    Second, what are you sending FMLA paperwork on? Monday-vacation, Tuesday-power outage, Wednesday-sick, Thursday-child sick, Friday-day off, Monday-no call/no show. As I read it, that's one day out sick, not three. Here you have performance issues and possible job abandonment. Skip the illness issues if they haven't been brought to you. This employee needs to be contacted about when he's going to show up for work. Aren't vacation days to be scheduled in advance? If he has a health issue, let him bring it up then and then supply the FMLA paperwork.
  • The employee's friend just told me that the employee is still trying to get in touch with the doctor and see if they can be admitted into the hospital. I sent the FML paperwork hoping to force their hand by actually going to the doctor and providing us with medical documentation. If I don't get the documentation then I'll let management deal with it at that time (hopefully).
  • The employee still needs to be in touch directly with either his supervisor or the HR department. Friends and family members do not call in unless the employee physically or logistically can't.
  • I agree with HRLass - don't let this employee manipulate you by not contacting you or his/her manager directly. He/she is not in a hospital and apparently able to talk to his/her friend, so he/she should be able to contact his/her employer.
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