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Employer question: Employee Returning from leave

I am a manager and I have an employee who was put on an 8 week leave from one doctor and a permanent leave from another. She didn’t want to take it but we told her since her doctors thought it necessary we should go with her 8 weeks and revisit it and see what her doctors thought. Her leave, by the way, was written on a Friday but she did not tell us about it until Tuesday and asked for her last day to be Thursday and to be removed from our schedule on Friday. So we did and July 31st was her last scheduled day. On August 1st, our temp started. We hired a temp who has worked out amazingly well and we contracted her for 8 weeks. She has been fabulous at the job that since our employee has permanent on the table we have talked about hiring our temp on for her hours if she cannot return or for partial hours if she can only do a light return. Also in this time, other members of our team who interact with her have said that our employee on sick leave, before she left, had significantly dropped in her productivity and positive interactions decreased with clients which has led multiple people to ask if our temp can stay on instead. Today we got a call, only 2 1/2 weeks later, that our employee would like to return on Tuesday, August 26th. We would like to know what our legal obligations are in this situation. Many online sites say to go through HR but we are a small business and do not have an HR. Do we need to place her back on the schedule at her request? Can we wait until the 8 weeks are over that originally discussed with both her and her doctor and that we contracted with our temp? When she is put back on the schedule do we have to give her back all of her hours or can they be adjusted?

The answer to your question will depend on the type of leave this employee is taking. If the leave is covered under FMLA, then you may not force an employee to take any more FMLA leave than is required. In other words, if her doctor now says she can return to work, you must allow her to do so. Also, an employee returning from FMLA leave must be returned to the same position or one with equivalent pay, status, benefits, and other employment terms, including the same number of scheduled hours.

Since you are a small employer, it is assumed that this is not an FMLA leave, in which case it will depend on what your leave policy says. Since medical conditions do change over time, healthcare providers cannot always accurately anticipate how long an individual will need to be out of work. Therefore, it would be reasonable to allow changes to the anticipated return-to-work date as the condition improves or deteriorates.

If there is concern about the employee’s work performance, it is recommended that her manager evaluate her performance when she returns to work, and address as appropriate, in accordance with the organization’s disciplinary policy.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 7:08 am and is filed under
Benefits, Human Resources Management, Labor Laws, Performance Management.
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