Most employees would never think of abusing a request for leave. However, that doesn’t necessarily stop employers from being suspicious of a request.
Some employers assume that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is misused more often than not. They may even make it as difficult as possible for employees to exercise their rights to emergency leave. Here are some of the employer tactic for preventing leave that you need to anticipate:
1. Many probing questions
Your employer does have a right to ask why you are taking leave. However, keep this in mind: Your employer is not a doctor. You have a right to prioritize your health (or a family member’s health) over the job.
Don’t feel that you have to justify your decision to take leave by giving lengthy explanations about what your treatment entails or why, exactly, you can’t work. Give your employer the minimum amount of information and ask for the forms your doctor needs to complete instead.
2. Required written requests
Your employer does have the right to ask for your leave request in writing. However, you can’t be denied emergency leave if you aren’t able to put the request in writing in advance. Curtail your employer’s objections by having the request in writing as soon as possible, and let your employer know the official forms will be returned as soon as possible.
3. Requests to contact your doctor
If your employer decides that your medical certification is incomplete or unclear, he or she may ask your permission to have a company doctor or nurse contact your medical provider. Decline this request. Instead, ask your employer to provide — in writing — an explanation of what is needed and get it from your doctor yourself.
4. Restrictive leave policies
Some employers push the boundaries of the law by requiring employees to remain in the vicinity of their homes if they’re out sick. If your employer informs you that they will be checking up on you, say that they will need to make an appointment because you don’t answer your door to unannounced callers.
While abuses do happen, most employees request sick leave because they need it. If your employer is using strong-arm tactics to deny your leave, an FMLA attorney can help you understand your options.