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Get tough with habitually absent employees

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We have a new administrative employee in our pediatric office who missed 22 days of work in her first nine weeks. She has doctor excuses for illnesses for most of the days, but my front office is in shambles. Can I put her on written warning for excessive absences? Can I terminate her? —C.F., Georgia

A. Why hasn't this employee already received a warning? It's time to start administering discipline under your attendance policy. If you don't have a policy, now's the time to write one. The right level of discipline depends, in large part, on that policy and your past practice.

Also, don't worry about her making an FMLA claim. She hasn't been employed for a full 12 months, so FMLA doesn't apply. And don't fear the ADA either. Courts have ruled that attendance is an “essential function” of most jobs, so it's safe to say that even a disabled employee can be disciplined for missing half of her scheduled workdays.

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