A colleague of mine was recently asking me this question and I couldn't figure out how to answer it...
As doctors, filling out paperwork for patients and family to get Family Medical Leave is something we sometimes have to do. My understanding (from the times I've done it for patients and taken it myself when I had a baby) is that it guarantees when you take no more than 12 weeks leave, your job will be safe.
My colleague was saying that if he discharges a patient to a nursing home or assisted living, he won't fill out FMLA paperwork for family members. Because the patient isn't going home, so why do they need to take a leave? They're taking advantage of the system!
I'm not sure how to respond. This isn't like giving someone a handicapped placard. This is an unpaid leave. A lot of people can't even afford to take 12 weeks off without a salary. So I figure if they want that, it's for a good reason.
Your colleague sounds like an asshole. There are a lot of reasons family may need to have time off after a family member goes into long term care or assisted living. One that comes to mind is dealing with all the things that can't be taken into an assisted living/long term care situation. Often people need to downsize and that doesn't happen quickly. It can take a long time to deal with the things accumulated over a life time. It is a difficult process that may involve sorting through things with emotional attachments, selling what can be sold and that involves doing it themselves or finding a broker. Deciding what to do with things that may have personal meaning but not necessarily monetary significance. Sometimes it can just be difficult and time consuming to find a company or service to take away things you don't want or know what to do with. And this is just the physical things. There can be trips to banks, lawyers, insurance agents, the post office, government agencies, public records that have to be dealt with (usually only during business hours) when a person transitions into a new living situation. Again your colleague sounds like a pompous ass who has never had to personally deal with these situations.ReplyDelete
I literally logged in to write "your colleague is an asshole." Ditto the above.Delete
With you fizzy. So under his philosophy if your child is born early and needs to be in NICU for long term treatment and may not even live, the parent who may want to spend every possible moment with their child and may have other under age 5 childrenReplyDelete
at home shouldn't get FMLA.
The guy probably has no relatives he cares about. Or has support from nearby family who have the time to step in.
I think he's making a lot of assumptions.
I'm with you! I always do FMLA stuff because why the heck shouldn't you be able to take unpaid leave if you feel you need to? I am stricter about disability forms and disability placards because those actually give someone a benefit that can take away from other people.ReplyDelete
I totally disagree with him. Obviously, he's never had to transition a family member into a nursing home or assisted living. Totally clueless about the process, the trauma, and the exhaustion that goes with this.ReplyDelete
Your colleague is a jerk and is actively harming people's lives. You should revisit this topic with him.ReplyDelete
As a family member who can't take FMLA (self-employed): researching and transitioning you mother/father/other relative into a nursing home/assisted living is not an easy process. It does take time and energy. The person requesting FMLA may need to take care of getting access to bank accounts, finding out what bills exist in order to pay them, clearing out a house to ready it for sale, etc. They may need to be on hand to take their loved one to more doctor's visits. They may need to be around to provide caregiving above and beyond what the facility provides.
As a story about that last one: my mother's one foray into assisted living ended with a fall after 2 weeks of being there. They don't provide a high level of medical care, either-- when she had the fall, they called me, and I had to take off work immediately to get her to an urgent care, where they checked her out and did the x-ray. They told us that since she was injured in the fall (wrist fracture), she could no longer remain unless we had someone with her 24/7-- either a paid caregiver or a family member. It was extremely chaotic. Having FMLA in place to draw upon would have been helpful if I was in a traditional job-- because FMLA is 12 weeks across a whole year.
FMLA only provides unpaid job-protected leave, so I don't understand where he's getting the idea that there's a big benefit to "taking advantage of the system." Basically, it's about the person not getting fired for having to take time off to deal with a family member's health crisis. Also, FMLA doesn't do much to protect the person from being penalized short of being fired. It's not supposed to happen, but managers and colleagues can cause major problems even if the person's actual job is protected. FMLA is not some joyful walk in the park for the person who has to take it.
And--very disproportionately-- the people who are most affected by these situations are women. Do men take FMLA? Sure. But I would be very surprised if it's not women who need it more, because a lot of family care tasks end up being handled by women. So your colleague's choice is something that contributes to harming women in the workplace.
Please talk to him again. What he's doing isn't just a bothersome personal philosophy. It's a big deal, and it has big repercussions for people who are already in a hard situation. It isn't his job to protect "the system." It's his job to help patients and caregivers deal with health crises. In denying FMLA, he is not doing his job.
I appreciate the input. I sensed there had to be good reasons for it.ReplyDelete
your colleague is a jerk and probably just hates doing paperwork and justifying why it's ok to foist FMLA paperwork onto the assisted living/NH caretakers.ReplyDelete
I'm a nurse practitioner. I think your colleague is a jerk.ReplyDelete
In defense of my colleague, I think he was upset on the patient's behalf that the family wouldn't take the patient home. So he felt like why should they get a free vacation if they wouldn't take care of their relative?ReplyDelete
He doesn't know how their relationship has been over their lifetime nor what else is going on in the families life. He doesnt get to decide when it is appropriate for families to take patients home and when they decide it is time for an alf. He doesn't get to judge their choices. He only gets to make that call when its his family member. THis makes him sound like even more of an assDelete
His defense is not a defense. FMLA is not a "free vacation." And just because he thinks that the family member technically could go home does not mean that returning home would actually work for that person. Unless he's involved in his patient's life to an extremely unusual degree, he has no idea what the patient's home looks like, how well set-up it is for the patient to be there, what the caregiver's life/other obligations look like/other problems look like.Delete
Denying FMLA to punish a caregiver for not making the choice he personally wants them to make is not appropriate. He harming people if he believes it's okay for him to practice medicine in this way.