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Monday, November 07, 2011

Is your chronically ill coworker just gaming the system?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Due to your advice, I landed a great job about a year ago. There is only one problem. I work for a small department, and we have a coworker, Jim, who is a very nice guy with a serious absentee problem. For example, this year to date, he has called in sick 32 times. (We have a shared calendar where we track sick days, vacation, events etc.) In addition to calling in sick, he is habitually late and during winter, he frequently calls in on snowy days and says he can't make it in. (We have another staff member who lives in the same area who has no trouble.) Last week, during a rainy morning, he called to say that he was stuck in traffic so he was going to go back home and wait and try to come in again around 10 or 10:30 (he was due in at 8:30.) This is not the first time he has done this. He has also been caught sleeping in his office multiple times.

He is eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because he has irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). This affects me because Jim is supposed to work the closing shift with me. When he is gone, I am left alone and have to do all the closing duties. Our current manager says that nothing can be done because of FMLA. We're in the process of hiring a new director.

First, does this seem like a legitimate FMLA situation? Second, when the new director gets hired, should we say something to him/ her about this situation or just let them see if for themselves? We don't want to come off as complainers but this is bothering us all. With such a small staff, anytime one of us has to take a vacation or sick day, it's always in the back of our minds, "What if Jim calls in, too?"

To read click here: Is your chronically ill coworker just gaming the system?


Anonymous said...

My advice would be to mind your own business. Your coworker, Jim may have an illness or problem that is causing the erratic behavior. You do not specify how Jim's actions impact you. Do you have to put in extra overtime to compensate for Jim? Does his absence cause you to miss deadlines? Honestly, your post sounds like you are just annoyed by Jim's actions. If Jim's problems do not impact you, shut up and focus on your work. Remember, you are only human. You are subject to same illnesses and problems as your coworker. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in the same position.

Affiliated Physicians said...

I read Evil HR Lady's response on CBS News and she raises a great point. "Your problem is to do your job." It may be frustrating to have a coworker that is coming across as lazy, but don't assume you know the whole situation.

Anonymous said...

Can you clarify what the manager is supposed to do if they really do feel the person is a slacker and taking advantage of the situation? Earlier you said if they have a doctor's note they shouldn't second guess a person with a medical degree, so how do you "handle the situation"?

Suzanne Lucas said...

You deal with performance, period. You talk about what you expect performance wise and how he's not meeting those expectations.

Legally, you cannot hold time out of the office against the person, either. So it's just time in the office.