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Employee Pregnancy

I have an employee who notified me, the direct supervisor that she was pregnant at 38 weeks, which was 2 weeks ago. It’s noted in the Office policy that texting is not a form of notification and employees must telephone and speak to the manager or MD. Not following policy is considered a no call no show. I have 2 instances where she has texted that she was in the ER. Once last week she noted she would inform me if she would be returning or not. I never heard from her. She did not communicate with me what her return status was. She returned on that Tuesday without a release from her physician. Then yesterday she texted, again which is against our office policy, that she was headed back to the hospital and would inform me ASAP of her status. It is in our office policy to call in by 6am if you’re not able to make your shift. It cannot be in text or it will not be accepted. At 6pm this evening there was a work release from her OB/GYN stating that she is off until further notice. My medical office is made up of 4 people, we are in Texas. Had we not gotten the notification from the OB/GYN, this would fall under our office policy as a no call no show, and possible termination. Should we turn a blind eye against our policy because of her pregnancy and the Disability Act is invoked not requiring her to notify us?

With only four employees, neither federal nor Texas leave and discrimination laws apply.

Straight from the Texas Workforce Commission:

“If a business has fewer than 15 employees (counting anyone who works for the business, performing services for pay, for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year), it is not covered by any employment law relating to pregnancy or disability, and the business would be free to handle the situation in any way it deems appropriate. Of course, a business not covered by such laws would still want to treat its employees as fairly and consistently as possible, if for no other reason than to minimize complaints, unnecessary turnover, and the risk of unfavorable publicity.”

The decision is ultimately yours to make but there are a few things to consider.

When the employee violated company policy by texting her absence the first time, was she counseled or given any warning that another occurrence would result in termination? Also, is it possible that the employee’s condition made it impossible for her to actually call? Maybe her spouse/family member texted you just so you would be aware? It’s fairly uncommon for an OBGYN to notify an employer of an employee’s absence. So, maybe it was a true unforeseen emergency. Though employees are expected to follow call-in policies, there should be an exception or at least some leeway in the case of emergencies.

Also, consider the employee’s overall performance. Is she generally a good worker and has only made a few minor mistakes in the last couple weeks?

Lastly, consider what you’ve promised the employee. Did you guarantee her some time off for childbirth and baby bonding? And you’re only considering going against that promise because she failed to follow the call-in policy when she was in the ER?

Based on the information provided, it may be best to retain the employee and keep any guarantees of continued employment.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 at 8:36 pm and is filed under
Attendance Management, Termination.
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