Ask HR: How far for Accommodating Medical Issues?

Dear HR,

My employee that has been missing A LOT of work for an extended period of time— at least one shift a week, and this is now adding up to weeks of work being missed. This is negatively affecting my business as no one is here to answer the phones or to get the front office work done. However, every time a shift is missed, my employee brings in a doctor’s note. My employee has now shared that due to a chronic medical condition, they are not able to be at work all the time, especially when the health condition flares up. I would like some clarification; do I have to keep accommodating these absences? Do I have to keep this employee?


HR Answer:

Both state and federal law require certain employers to provide family leave to their qualifying employees: Oregon Sick Time, California Paid Sick Leave, the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) are the most common. At first glance, it appears this employee may qualify for both OFLA and FMLA. Although there are a few exceptions, OFLA and FMLA generally provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Leave may be taken in one 12-week block, intermittently, or in the form of a reduced schedule.

Intermittent leave may require a reduced schedule or may be taken in multiple lumps of time such as by the hour, day, or week instead of one 12 week long block of time. OFLA and FMLA both permit leave to be taken intermittently for any qualifying reason, except parental leave. When an employee is working a reduced work schedule, their leave entitlement is typically applied to the missed time until all available leave is exhausted. Once all paid time off and protected leave is exhausted, your regular attendance policies may apply. Details about ADA, FMLA and OFLA should be covered in your employee handbook. For assistance determining leave coverage and eligibility, processing leave requests or updating your employee handbook, contact Cardinal today!