Thursday, May 29, 2008

FMLA: The Bad Employee's Best Friend

I work in state government, and have been for the past 12 years. Currently, I work in payroll, grouchily creating paychecks for malcontents and incompetents, and dealing with nincompoops for cry for their precious tuition reimbursement money.

All kidding aside, I really do enjoy my job. Have been enjoying my present position for the past 4 1/2 years. Made a ton a new acquaintances and more than few good and close friends. Most importantly, I've earned the respect of the staff members I do payroll for. So much so, that for about six months after I left my previous agency, I had staff members asking me when I was going to come back.

But I digress.

This particular post will touch on one, of many, fascinating things that I've experienced/seen in the past four and a half years of doing payroll: namely FMLA or it's official name, The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Originally designed to help people who are/have become seriously ill, keep their jobs without fear of losing them, it now (at least from where I work) has become the premier tool of abuse for bad employees.

In the public sector (state govt.), abusing/perpetually exhausting your time is grounds for dismissal. Under FMLA, you can do the aforementioned things, and not get fired. Since it's in the labor unions best interests to keep every bad employee working, what do think their first reaction was, once they got around to actually giving this act a thorough reading?

That's right, they advised ALL their union members to apply for it, whether they need it or not. That way, if they abused their time or exhausted their time, they couldn't get disciplined for it. With FMLA, it's virtually impossible to prove that someone is abusing it, no matter how much circumstantial evidence you produce.

Example, say I have problems getting up in the morning because I'm a alcoholic. I get the necessary forms and bring them to my doctor to fill out, saying that I have some kind of bogus medical condition and I can't start my job until 11 in the morning.

Presto, chango! I now have the luxury of showing up late and not get into any trouble for it. Further still, because I'm not there, other people have to pick up my sorry butt and do my job for me.

Just what the doctor ordered, the perfect tool for a bad employee to use and abuse. And because of this, people who have legitimate medical problems/issues/conditions, get looked down upon by people who only see the bad co-workers use and abuse it, and lump them all together.

Politicians. Good intentions, bad execution.

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