Medical Leave Case Scenario
Julie Rice works for a computer company where she has been employed for four years as a lead supervisor. During the past two years Julie’s mother has needed frequent medical attention for her diabetes. Being an only child, Julie has helped her mother as often as her work schedule would allow. Unfortunately during the past two years, her mother’s condition has worsened.
Julie asked the firm for and was granted an unpaid leave to care for her mother in accordance with FMLA and company policy. The agreement stated that Julie could miss work every Friday for 60 weeks rather than taking time off 12 straight weeks. At the end of the 60 weeks Julie returned to work full time and immediately began missing work to care for her mother until all of her allotted vacation and sick leave were exhausted. She then asked that her Friday leave be extended indefinitely because her mother’s condition remained serious and she required ongoing assistance.
The HR director was uncertain what the response should be. The firm needed Julie to be at work regularly because of the increasingly heavy workload, the fact that her job duties were critical and because other supervisors and employees preferred not to have to cover for her. On the other hand Julie was an excellent supervisor and had worked for four years at this company. In addition everyone was concerned about Julie and her mother’s welfare and wanted to support them.
The policy manual reads as follows:
Employees who have worked for at least one year and worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months period preceding the commencement of the leave year are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for one or more of the following reasons:
Birth of a son or daughter of employee and to care for such son/daughter; placement of a son/daughter with employee for adoption or foster care; care for spouse, son, daughter, or parent of employee if said person has a serious health condition; or a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform function of the position of such employee.
- Imagine you are an HR consultant to the organization involved in this situation. The organization wants to be responsive and fair. What do you recommend?