What are the attendance rules if you’re sick?

by Evil HR Lady on November 16, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I work in a small department of a very large company, and we have very strict paid-time off (PTO) rules and guidelines that I feel my manager applies to most, but not all, employees. There is an employee that has the same job title as I do, with the exact same amount of PTO days. But she has a chronic illness and is sick so often that she has been absent for twice the amount of days allotted per year. 

Her PTO time has been used for numerous vacations and numerous trips to the hospital. My manager has made it perfectly clear that he will track other employees’ PTO to the second but that her time is “untrackable.” It is obvious that she is using her illness as a “get out of jail free” card. She has been working an average of only three-and-a-half to four days per week but getting paid for five full days of work as a salaried employee for almost two years now. When I approach my manager about how this upsets other employees and how it affects the distribution of work, he denies that it is even happening and tells me that it is my perception. 

I have been tracking her time for months and I can tell you that it is most certainly not my perception. As an employee with a chronic illness, does she have the right to come and go as she pleases? What are my rights? And what is the best way for me to handle this situation?

To read the answer click here: What are the attendance rules if you’re sick?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki November 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Before I even click through to Suzanne’s response, I’m going to say what I think a lot of us are thinking:

_You_ have been tracking her time for months. You.
You are a co-worker. Your are not her manager. You are not, apparently, even in the HR team.

WHat makes any of this _your_ Business?

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Evil HR Lady November 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I think it’s a good thing when my readers already know the answer before clicking!

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Tanya November 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

If I were your Manager I would be asking you how much of YOUR work time are you spending spying on this co-worker! It certainly can’t be productive in any way whatsoever. It isn’t any of your business or your concern. If it effects YOUR job (extra work falling on you, etc.) then talk to your manager, or say no to this employee. If it doesn’t effect your job in any way and you only find it ‘annoying’ then you just have to ignore the small stuff and quit making such a big deal about it. Put yourself in her shoes & think of how you’d feel being sick & also having to work to make ends meet at the same time. It can happen to anybody, even you.

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Evil HR Lady November 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I think some people assume that sick people “deserve” whatever happened to them. Nobody deserves that.

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cncx November 19, 2012 at 6:32 am

I can’t remember if it was on this blog or Ask A Manager where there was a story about one person complaining about a “late” coworker who was off or late all the time who never got sanctioned, and then she “complainer” showed up five minutes late one day and got her wrists slapped. The answer was that maybe the “late” coworker was actually doing her job and other than absence had no other performance issues, and maybe the “complainer” coworker got treated the way she did because she needed to be micromanaged and had other performance issues, of which attendance played a part.
I’ve had more than my fair share of coworkers who milked it due to various pathologies and I think the complainer has a right to complain if her workload is unmanageable as a result of carrying the can once a week, which the letter didn’t spell out. But not to complain about the “unfairness” of someone else’s time off.

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Evil HR Lady November 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I love it when people confuse me and AAM. To be honest, I remember the situation you mentioned above and I don’t remember whether it was me or her either.

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LA December 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm

As someone with a chronic illness this worrywart annoys me to no end. This “concerned” employee probably has no idea what it is like to live life in constant pain or fear of a flare up or other disabling part of a chronic illness taking over. I sincerely hope they never do have to know what it is like. But they have no idea about the chronically ill person’s relationship with their work is – I also have a chronic illness that precludes me from being in the office 40 hours a week some weeks. Does that mean I’m not working 40 hours? Of course not, I’m just not doing it during normal business hours in the office. If I have a doctor’s appointment I time shift my day, if I wake up and can’t function I go back to sleep and start working in the afternoon into the late evening. Please, start paying attention to your own work and stop tracking this other employee’s hours – they probably have enough on their plate without having to worry about their coworker vindictively watching their every move

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NK May 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I completely agree! I am 23 years old & dealing with chronic illness. In September I finally found a job I LOVED but with all that I deal with in my body i missed days due to the inability to even get out of bed. I was “let go” due to the fact that my boss thought I was “too unreliable.” It really sucks, but its a part of my life that I have to deal with.
Unless its something that YOU have to deal with , you will never know how it feels to have to juggle so much & the looks other employees give you after you’ve been sick for a few days doesn’t help at all!
Being sick was not our choice so lighten up and try to understand the situation from another perspective. and if you cant do that , just keep quiet and do YOUR JOB.

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