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First time starting a topic - here goes.

I have a really good job, but I've been on FMLA for a couple of years and they are...less than understanding when I have a long absence due to an episode. The following was an actual conversation between me and the HR idiot who has absolutely no concept of MI.

HR: I don't understand. Why couldn't you call in last Friday? What happens?

Me: When I have a depressive episode I talk to no one. I am literally in the bed, all day.

HR: But....you had access to a phone.

Me: (Inward sigh at apparent lingering stupidity of this person) Yes. I had access to a phone.

HR: Well, it's not like you were in intensive care. If you were incapcitated, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

My thought - if this were ANY PHYSICAL AILMENT WHATSOEVER, we would not be having this conversation. I did not trust myself to respond. Other than telling HR to do what they gotta do in terms of writing me up for not calling in. There was a much longer, extended version of this bull which I will spare you guys from.

Does anyone else have ongoing FMLA problems at work?

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I was on FMLA prior to stopping work.

No, they are not going to be very understanding in general about not fulfilling your obligations to the company - even though you have a good reason. Sometimes you get lucky and the people that matter understand it enough that good work when you are there can compensate. People are definitely more capable of understanding a physical ailment they don't have than a mental one. That is very frustrating.

However, there's a difference between telling them you can't make it, and just not showing up. There are limits as to what FMLA can help you with. Even with the physical.. if it's habitual.. they're going to expect/need contact as they're going to expect you to figure it out. That doesn't mean that you're capable of it.. it's just what's equally fair to the company. Finding out if you were incapacitated in the normal sense is appropriate in order to determine if it's something that can be excused under normal company rules instead. Perhaps there is something that can be set up where you could let them know you won't be there without actually having to talk to them? That would be a reasonable accommodation to me.

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Finding out if you were incapacitated in the normal sense is appropriate in order to determine if it's something that can be excused under normal company rules instead.

You don't owe them any explanation. You tell them you are out on FMLA that that's it. The forms that were filled out by the doctor are good enough for them. Honestly, just don't get into it with them. It isn't their business. Legally they have to do it. Leave it at that.

Right. A simple - "I couldn't, do what you have to do," is the same thing. It's your choice in whether or not you try to get it excused by explaining.

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I agree with Cetkat. This is not an FMLA issue, the FMLA does not give you carte blanche to miss work *unexcused*. In fact the FMLA form I use asks you to spell out when you will be absent.

Is e-mail a possibility or could someone else call for you.


I never tell work why I am missing, just that "I will not be in today".

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Yeah, you still have to call in. I don't think that's unreasonable. Have someone do it for you if you need to.

Most people don't have depressive episodes that last a day and are so severe that they can't get out of bed and make a call and then are able to function normally, or at least enough to have a conversation, just days later. It's a very unusual presentation of the illness that frankly even I don't understand.

I think you're asking for too much.

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What are the requirements for an employee to furnish notice of a need for an FMLA leave?

An employee must provide her/his department at least 30 days advance notice before FMLA leave is to begin if the need for the leave is foreseeable. If 30 days notice is not practicable due to lack of knowledge as to when leave will be required to begin, notice must be given as soon as practicable. An employee shall provide notice either in person or by telephone, or other electronic means. The department should inquire further of the employee if it is necessary to have more information about whether FMLA leave is being sought by the employee and obtain the necessary details of the leave to be taken. Notice may be given by the employee's family member (e.g., a spouse) if the employee is unable to do so personally. The

Notice of Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities and Designation Notice must be used for an employee's notice of a need for FMLA leave.

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I've sent them an email before, and they supposedly "didn't get it." I think it got kicked out as spam through the work filter. Since then I've always called, and I do call - every single day of a multi-day episode, no matter what. I make a definite effort to give them what they need, ahead of time if I can. The doctor's notes are there every time. EVERY time.

The frustration for me (and for them) is the unpredictable nature of it all. That episode started last Monday night and I'm still in it, and it was completely unexpected. Today was my first full day back. If I could let them know ahead of time, I would. But I *just can't* predict it. Not fully. I'm headed back to therapy for a bit, so we'll see how that goes.

When it's my life and my disease (and my depressive episode that I'm in right now), it's incredibly difficult to say, "Oh, you need this stuff for your paperwork, after I busted my ass to make it out of bed this morning? But of course. Let me get right on that, in between fits of staring off into space and convincing my bipolar voices to shush." It's not exactly a priority for me - even though I fully realize it is for them.

Thanks for the input. I think we need to discuss something like texting or email as an alternative.

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Keep in mind "job abandonment" is 3 days missed in a row without communication with work. After that they can fire your ass, generally even if you have an employment contract. I almost got fired over this.

For e-mail I would send e-mail with a return receipt required so you have proof they saw the e-mail. Most e-mail programs let you do this. As soon as they open the e-mail (not just receive it) you will get an e-mail that states the time and date they opened the e-mail.


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Not to sound bitter, but be thankful you have FMLA. I work for an airline and they have been fighting us tooth and nail since FMLA was introduced on several fronts. They ultimately approve it (because they have been sued and know they have to for people who qualify) but they put up so many road blocks and paper work obstacle courses that many employees lose the benefit on technicalities and end up in disciplinary action. Also, we can no longer be pre-approved for FMLA for any reason or condition. Each time we call off, we have to apply for FMLA all over again which is in itself a major, major headache. Also, we never know when they are going to all of the sudden question a doctor's note/ diagnosis this month that was totally approved a few months prior just to wear us down and play their games -- many horror stories from co-workers about this. FMLA at my company is truly a four letter word to our management's ears. Also, you (original poster) would have definitely been fired at my co for not contacting HR/ mgmt if/ when they instructed you to, and in a nanosecond. That would be disobeying a direct order, and instructing us to contact them regarding a work absence at my company is always an implied direct order. The message we have to listen to when we call in sick always explicitly reminds us of this.

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