Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Employee leave rights and the flu

I’m typing today’s post from my bed, where I convalesce with the flu.

Since I’m at home with the flu, I thought it worthwhile to discuss the leave-of-absence rights of employees with this illness.

Let’s start with the FMLA itself. It’s rules actually mention the flu by name.
Ordinarily, unless complications arise, the common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal diseases, etc. are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and do not qualify for FMLA leave.

This excerpt, however, does not tell the whole story. It merely says that if a temporary illness like the flu meets the definition of a “serious health condition,” then the FMLA covers it. Thus, FMLA coverage for the flu hinges on factors such as whether the FMLA-eligible employee is incapacitated for more than three full consecutive days, and visits a doctor for anti-viral meds (hello Tamiflu). 

But this all begs the question, who cares? Do you want flu-riddled employees in halls of your office or on the floor of your shop? Why not grant employees the time they need to heal (and to not spread their illness).

Develop policies that encourage ill workers to stay at home without fear of any reprisals.

Develop other flexible policies to allow workers to telework (if feasible) and create other leave policies to allow workers to stay home to care for sick family members or care for children.

As for me, I had my flu shot, have my Tamiflu, and and hopeful I’ll only be down for a few days.