This morning, the sound of the morning alarm was harsh reality for scores of employees throughout Wisconsin. After celebrating a Packers Super Bowl victory late into the night (a bitter pill for this Bears fan to swallow!), they have no interest in dragging themselves out of bed and heading into work. For employers, you need not be located in Wisconsin to suffer the effects of the Super Bowl. Case in point — I was talking with an HR professional (located outside of WI.) last week who was not looking forward to the day after Super Bowl Sunday, when she spends much of her day processing leave of absence requests — nearly all of which come from employees who called off right before the Monday morning shift started.
Some of the employees have fairly legitimate reasons for their absences (“My son, Johnnie, ate Aunt Erma’s chili last night and he can’t keep anything down this morning); others phone in ambiguous reasons such as, “I am taking FMLA again today,” or “Remember that thing I was dealing with three weeks ago … well, it’s acting up again.”
For HR professionals, the employer response to these phone calls is one of the most difficult they face: Do I count this as an ordinary sick day? Do I ask for more information? Can I ask for more information? What precise “thing” is “acting up” again? Does this information trigger FMLA leave?
What can an employer do to obtain more information from the employee in these situations?