Termination for excessive absenteeism

Q. Our handbook states that employees will be terminated if they are absent more than 10 days in 12 consecutive months. An employee has been absent for seven days so far this year, three of which were due to the flu. He called out sick four days ago. When he returns, he will have exceeded the 10-day limit. Can we terminate him?

A. It depends. The employee’s current absence, and some of his prior absences, may be covered by the FMLA (if your company has 50 or more employees and the employee has worked 1,250 or more hours in the preceding 12 months).

If an employee has a serious health condition that results in an absence of more than three days, direct him to obtain medical certification to determine whether his condition is covered under the FMLA. If it is, he is entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and cannot be disciplined or terminated for taking it. It is possible that his condition could constitute a disability under federal and state law, which may also entitle him to leave. Before taking drastic action, get more information.