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Depression/fmla Questions


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#1 1dayatatime74105

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 01:49 PM

Hi all, new to the forum. I did a search, but didn't see the answers I needed.

I'm a 52 year old male with a long history of dysthmic depression, anxiety disorders, and ADD. I've been in and out of treatment since 1991, both under the care of psychiatrists and psychologists; usually both at the same time. I've seen benefit from the theraputic work I've done, but have never seen the slightest benefit from any of the dozens of medications I've been prescribed over the years.

About a year and a half ago, I resumed seeing a very good therapist I'd seen in the past, and have been working with him ever since. I have not been seeing a psychiatrist.

About two months ago, I went into a major depression, and have been trying to work my way through it.

I have missed a lot of work during this time. I've had my current job for nearly 5 years, and like it. Fortunately, we have been slow the past several months, so my absences have not had a major negative effect on business, and I've had more than enough sick/vacation time to cover my absences.

I got a letter from HR two weeks ago with the forms included to apply for short-term disability. Since I didn't plan on applying for disability, i didn't pay it much attention.

I got a letter from HR yesterday with an FMLA form, saying they'd approved my FMLA leave on September 2nd and requested the ducumentation from my doctor be returned within 15 days, but they had not yet received it. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have some problems with work if I do not get that FMLA form filled out and returned to them.

This leads to my first question. I am not currently under the care of a dedical doctor,. My therapist is a PhD, practicing at a large psychiatric clinic/hospital. Is my therapist able to fill out the FMLA paperwork, or is an MD required?

My second question is, how much confidentiality do I have under FMLA. If "depression", etc. is listed as the illness on my FMLA paperwork, is my HR department under any constraints about whom they can share it with within the organization? I'm really not crazy about my manager, supervisors and co-workers knowing about this.

As bad as I'm feeling, I cannot afford to lose this job, so no matter what, I'm going to suck it up and get back to working. I'm just needing to figure out the best way to deal with this current HR issue.

Thanks

#2 SecretMist

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 10:41 PM

hi 1dayatatime and welcome to df,

i'm sorry that you are going through such a hard time right now. i am glad that you were able to take off work to so that you can feel better. i think you may want to talk with your therapist about the forms and they should be able to point you into the right direction as to who can help you fill them out. the only thing that management at work need to know is that you have a need for short term disability. hr at work may know, but it is against policy to go into any detail as to what your condition is unless when you return to work management may need to know a little depending on what kind of work you do. i hope this helps a little. this is how things were when i worked and nobody had to know anything except for hr and then they could let management know to give a little help with work load.

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#3 Sheepwoman

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 03:13 PM

FMLA is for "family leave" and can be used for time off after a baby is born, you have to be a temporary full-time caretaker for a family member or if you need time off to recover from an illness and your sick leave days are exhausted. FMLA has a duration of 6 months during which you will not receive any pay from your employer. Normally, FMLA requires a doctor (MD) request. You need to ask HR if your tdoc can fill out/submit the form for approval. Medical leaves are covered by HIPPA which means HR is the only one that knows about your health disability and that information cannot be shared with anyone in the company. It's the same if you had applied for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) services to help you at work. If you want to share why you're not working with a fellow employee, that's fine. The problem is the co-worker may relay your information on to others.

You mentioned short term disability, Is that a state fund (SDI in California) you pay into or is it a company sponsored plan for employees.

In my previous employment, I worked in HR and was often the "go to" person if fellow employeess needed to know anything about benefits, company policies, etc.
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God will give you no more than you can handle. This is all a test to see if you are really ready for the good things that are going to come your way. All this pain is going to come back and make me stronger.-Clarence Clemmons 1942-2011

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#4 Deepster

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 05:52 PM

If memory serves me correctly, and it sometimes doesn't, you must have 1250.0 hours worked in order to be eligible for FMLA. This is on a "rolling" 12 month basis. There is no beginning and no end except the past 12 months....to the date. I used to work with this daily, but it's been some time ago. If you do qualify, depending on your company's benefits, and the dictates of FMLA, you should be eligible for up to 12 weeks paid time off to care for yourself or family members(I'd be glad to look this up for you if for some reason you can't, or your HR dept won't). It'd be good for me to know this info again anyway. I'd say just off hand that depending on the size of your company, and the time you've worked just in the past year, you should qualify.

I'd say that you work for a pretty d###### good company if they have just observed your case, and have just outta the blue offered this up to you without prompting, and in some cases "prodding".

In all likelihood, you are going to have to see a pdoc to get all this comfirmed, i.e., an MD. This should be no daunting effort, as a good tdoc is going to make your initial assessment, and the pdoc is going to confirm and medicate for the condition indicated.

Someone is looking out for your behind. Don't ignore it. Fill out the paperwork and get on with getting healthy!

Regards,
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Edited by Deepster, 20 September 2009 - 06:00 PM.

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#5 McCaverty

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 04:43 PM

FMLA allows you up to 12 weeks per year of UNPAID leave. It guarantees that you will be able to return to the same job (or one reasonably similar to it) after having taken the leave - this also maintains your insurance benefits while you are taking the leave. FMLA absence does have to be "prescribed" (and renewed annually if you need to keep using it) in whatever form/amount you're going to use it by an MD or pdoc. It doesn't have to all be taken in one chunk, or in any particular-sized chunk. It can be used an hour at a time (and, I believe, even in increments of 15 mintues). I'm not sure why your HR department would insist that you use FMLA, as you said you had more than enough accrued time to cover your absences. I would ask them why they want you to do this - it's entirely possible that they don't understand all the ins and outs of its use.

Edited by McCaverty, 24 September 2009 - 04:47 PM.


#6 Deepster

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:41 PM

FMLA allows you up to 12 weeks per year of UNPAID leave. It guarantees that you will be able to return to the same job (or one reasonably similar to it) after having taken the leave - this also maintains your insurance benefits while you are taking the leave. FMLA absence does have to be "prescribed" (and renewed annually if you need to keep using it) in whatever form/amount you're going to use it by an MD or pdoc. It doesn't have to all be taken in one chunk, or in any particular-sized chunk. It can be used an hour at a time (and, I believe, even in increments of 15 mintues). I'm not sure why your HR department would insist that you use FMLA, as you said you had more than enough accrued time to cover your absences. I would ask them why they want you to do this - it's entirely possible that they don't understand all the ins and outs of its use.


McCaverty-

You may be right on this as I haven't worked with it in about 9 years, and it's quite possible some things have changed. I do know that persons who had not accrued 1250.0 hours were not eligible it seems to me for even UNPAID time off. I do also know that the company I worked for(a Fortune 10 Company) did indeed pay for up to 12 weeks. This might have just been a perk for working for such a huge company.

Another matter is that when you ran out of accrued time off, you were just OUT OF IT! Any absences beyond that point were just simply absences, and thus one was likely to lose thier job if the amount of absence went into the "unacceptable" range.

Also, I believe that FMLA also only applies to companies who have 50 or more employees.

FMLA is a wonderful thing when used according to it's intent. Generally for me it was a curse, as I was the manager of other managers as well as about 125 non-management employees. The abusers could drive you nuts but just working up to the minute they had accrued eligible time off and reporting out again. Yet, by the same token, there were poeple to whom my heart went out to, as it was a god send to those folks, and they didn't abuse it.

Just some additional ideas I thought I'd pass out for further discussion.

Deepster

Edited by Deepster, 24 September 2009 - 06:46 PM.

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#7 McCaverty

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 05:52 PM

I still don't understand why the HR department would be so "helpful" in sending FMLA paperwork to him if his absences were already covered by his accrued paid time off. I mean, if he's been absent and using regular vacation and sick time - that's exactly what accrued time is for.

#8 Deepster

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 08:10 PM

I still don't understand why the HR department would be so "helpful" in sending FMLA paperwork to him if his absences were already covered by his accrued paid time off. I mean, if he's been absent and using regular vacation and sick time - that's exactly what accrued time is for.


I do understand where you are coming from, I think. However, how would you handle a sutuation where an employee could not be granted vacation or other types of paid time off due to the absences of other employees? For instance, the number of employees you need today is 10. You, the employer, have 12 employees. You have 2 employees already absent due to legitimate vacation time they had requested. This morning aready 2 more employees call in sick with the flu....they don't really have to worry about their absenses as they have had no previous attendance problems that might jeopardize their jobs. You are now already short 20% of the work force that is required to meet the demands of the business. THEN a third employee calls in sick, and you are down 30% of your required work force. You have no chance of meeting service demands with only 70% of your workforce in place. You're sunk before you even begin, so offering vacation or PTO as an option might not even be feasible, much less sensible from a business perspective.
In my opinion this is exactly the reason for FMLA......to protect employees from losing their jobs because they have neither accrued sufficient vacation or PTO, nor would they have any sort of "absense" rights without being just tossed on the street.

What would I have done in a situation like this if I really desired to keep her/him on the payroll? I go out of my way to help the employee understand that she/he has options available to them that are protected by Federal law, and I would offer to facilitate things to move rapidly so the employees job is not at risk. In my case, I would not even have had to contact HR. I'd just print out the employees hours worked, time accrued, and in 2 minutes I would have advised them of their eligibility under FMLA and ask them if they'd like for me to arrange the necessary paperwork to be sent to them. I would have been the one to call HR, and say "get this employees FMLA papers out to him/her TODAY!" The paperwork would be sent out and an HR representative would have been assigned to the case on the spot. I DO REALIZE it might not be that simple in other companies, especially smaller ones.

I still maintain that from my previous experience it just appears that someone is trying to protect an employees behind. Actually, it seems HR in this case is doing exactly what they should do, and that's to protect a valued employee from destroying their own employment.

This is a very simplistic scenario that I've represented. There are a million more that could be stated.

I am still going to go back to the original post and read it again to see if I'm totally off base with something that might(or might not) have been shared.

Deepster
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