Q. I have an employee who is constantly scheduling appointments during work hours and having to leave. In the past two weeks alone, she missed 27 hours due to appointments. If we cannot restrict appointments outside of work, can I require documentation of appointments? — Kate, New York
A. Yes, you can require employees to work scheduled work hours, and tell them to avoid making plans to do other things during scheduled time.
You don’t say what sort of “appointments” this employee is taking. But if those are medical appointments to address a serious health condition or disability—or to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition—those absences may be protected by the(or, in some states, a similar state law) or the ADA. If your organization is large enough to be subject to the FMLA, and the employee has worked at least 1,250 hours for you over the past 12 months, then the employee may be entitled to take leave (even ) without much advance notice.
If the employee suffers from a disability, then taking leave to attend a medical appointment also may be considered a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA, even if the employee is not entitled to.
Even if those appointments are covered by the FMLA or ADA, you may be able to ask the employee to schedule such appointments at a more convenient time, or to provide you more notice of the need to be absent from work.