Leave of Absence and Workplace Accommodations
July 26th, 2022, by ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM
If you are reading this article, chances are you are familiar with Leave of Absence and Workplace Accommodations. However, you still have some questions, right?
As a People Leader, do you often ask yourself, “How can I understand when an employee needs a leave of absence or workplace accommodation?”
Are you familiar with the lyrics from the old song by the Stylistics, “Stop look and listen to your heart, hear what it’s saying…”? Ok, maybe not, maybe I’m dating myself, but I do love the old classics. Anywho, with just a tweak of the words, we can apply the same logic to help managers quickly identify leave of absence and workplace accommodation situations.
Stop, look, listen, and observe your employee; hear what they’re saying in both words and actions. Be aware of keywords, phrases, and actions that may indicate a need for a leave of absence or workplace accommodation. Your employee does not have to explicitly use the words “Leave of Absence” or “Workplace Accommodation” to initiate a legal obligation for the company to act. Below are examples of some phrases and actions that may trigger the leave of absence or workplace accommodation processes:
- I’m having trouble with headaches when I’m around cleaning products.
- I’m using PTO to have an outpatient procedure on my foot.
- I’m tired and need a mental break.
- My medication is not working as it should. It takes longer for me to get up in the morning and causes me to be late for work.
- My shoulder has been really stiff lately and hurts after I move boxes on truck days.
- Im having trouble seeing at night, and it makes driving difficult.
- I was in the hospital on my day off, but I didn’t miss work.
- My mom has been sick lately, and I need to take care of her.
So now that you’ve identified a potential leave of absence or workplace accommodation situation, what’s next? A best practice is to immediately engage your Leave and Disability Team (LDT) if your company has centralized processes. If your organization does not have centralized operations, engage your Human Resources Leader (HRL) for assistance.
Although you may be an experienced people leader, don’t try to navigate the request alone. There have been and continue to be many regulatory changes in this area. Therefore, it is better to engage your LDT/HRL for advice as soon as you become aware of the situation. The LDT/HRL can assess the situation and assist you in determining the best solution for your business and employee to avoid costly litigation.
ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM is a subject matter expert in absence and disability management with more than 10 years of professional experience in managing and training professionals to ensure compliance and resolution of complex leave of absence and workplace accommodation requests. Ms. Radcliffe is a major contributor to curriculum development of IEA’s Certified Professional in Disability Management (CPDM) program, the leading nationally recognized professional designation for leaves and absence managers.