I unfortunately, have quite exensive experience with FMLA. Initally, last year I had the FMLA paperwork completed by my PT and treating physician as I was having weekly PT appts. and others that required me to miss work frequently. This afforded me the protection of being able to take off of work with out repercussions. The condition must be chronic in nature and if you look at the forms there are various items that can be checked by the doctor that may pertain to your particular situation.
After about six months of PT my condition did not improve and my employer could not tolerate me being gone so much (I was a supervisor of an eight person office). I then used FMLA paperwork to take medical leave initially for three months, so that I could participate in treatment more often without worrying about work. Before the end of the three months, it was apparent that this was not long enough, so I took another three months. By law, you are allowed up to 12 weeks of leave (paid or unpaid),you can choose to use your paid leave if you have it available while you are off. My situation was a little different as I worked for a state governement, which also has to allow medical leave, but still yet, the maximum while using the FMLA or your employer's policy is still six months. Where you can possibly run into some trouble is if your abscence causes an "undue hardship" on your employer. Being a supervisor, mine did and if I would have returned after my six months off, I was going to be demoted, therefore I choose to resign from my agency after almost twenty years of service to them. The six months just wasn't enough time to make a dent in feeling better and I just couldn't handle work and trying to deal with everything else anymore.
The "undue hardship" definition is very sketchy in the FMLA and ADA laws. The Department of Labor website has all the info that you need to become somewhat educated about it, as well as all the forms that you will need. Being informed in my opinion is the best thing that you can do so that you know what you are afforded by law, and where the line can be drawn by your employer. I hope this helps some. Dawn
--- On Sat, 6/6/09, IAS Admin (Tracy) <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: IAS Admin (Tracy) <email@example.com> Subject: FMLA To: "Multiple recipients of list ADHESIONS" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Saturday, June 6, 2009, 2:26 PM Sender: email@example.com (jetstamp) Subject: Re: FMLA
At Tue, 2 Jun 2009, lindahalford wrote:
>What is FMLA? I'm not sure I understand your email. I retired because of
>severe abdominal pain caused by adhesions. I don't have Irritable Bowel
>Syndrome (IBS) so I couldn't claim to have it.
FMLA is the Family Leave Medical Act. It went into effect during the Clinton Admininstration.
I had asked this same question on another site's forum, and it turned into a massive debate about what FMLA is, exactly, and how and when it is supposed to be utilized.
Where I work, it is used by people who have things like back pain- they get it filled out by their doctor on a regular basis. This way, our employer is REQUIRED to let them off of work whenever needed either due to pain or for frequent doctor visits- regardless of staffing (whether someone is on vacation, etc.) They may need time off on an intermittent basis, or maybe for a continual basis within a given time frame. Their request for the time off cannot be denied, and their job is protected as well.
The argument that came up was that FMLA was only supposed to be used in cases where an employee may not have enough paid sick or vacation days left, and that FMLA would allow up to 12 weeks off a year for the condition- with part of the 12 weeks being 'unpaid' leave, if necessary, and so the employee cannot be fired due to lack of having enough 'paid' leave. Someone also said that the policy states that FMLA is for a 'serious' condition- so if it is described as 'chronic' (which is how I describe mine) then it might not be eligible for FMLA.
FMLA can also be used for employees who have to take off to care for an ill child or parent. Someone said it can be used in cases where someone has to be off while going through the process of adopting a child. I did read the policy somewhat, but am not good at comprehending that type of detailed stuff.
I know that where I work, most of the employees who have FMLA are NOT out of paid sick and vacation time- but they still use FMLA as documentation. I know that a few years ago when I was going to frequent apppointments for an adrenal gland issue, with surgery and 4-6 weeks recovery time coming up, my supervisor came up to me with FMLA papers and told me to have my doctor fill them out, and he did, because she said that then 'She would HAVE to let me have the time off.' I cooperated, although in a case like that, really, 'regular' documentation should have sufficed- I had (still do have) plenty of accrued sick leave and vacation time. Even before there was such a thing as FMLA, an employee would have been allowed off in a situation like that with a simple note from a doctor as long as they had enough paid leave to cover it, as far as I know. But as I said, whether right or wrong, my employer seems to routinely be using so-called FMLA in cases like this where employees are not out of paid leave but are gone a lot for medical issues-- whether for a single, extended period of time or need to be off intermittently.
My main point was that when you have an issue like adhesions, or even the so-called IBS, is that it is difficult to get doctors to appreciate the debilitating degree of pain and dysfunction, and as a result, they will not cooperate as far as helping you out by giving you documentation for your employer if you have to take off too frequently for flare-ups, whether it be FMLA or otherwise. I can, of course, bring an apppointment slip to cover that aspect. Although in a case like a colonoscopy, for example, where besides the actual day of the test, you need to be off the day before to clean yourself out, and if you have chronic pain issues in that area to begin with, the test itself could make you feel worse for a few days afterward. Usually, doctors are loathe to give me documentation for needing to recover after- because they can't imagine that a colonoscopy could cause much discomfort after (or just don't want to admit it). No wonder so many people avoid having this test!
And you have to remember, many people whose GI issues are actually caused by adhesions and/or endo, and probably other things, will be told they 'only have IBS'. IBS is a readily given, vague, over-used, catch-all 'non-diagnosis', IMO. That is why the number of people diagnosed with the condition is growing so fast- I feel it is a brush-off term that fits in well with today's rushed office visits and maybe pressure to keep medical costs down which means that limited testing is done to find the 'real' source of the problem. Doctors tell you that they have no idea of what's causing it, after all, and I know in my case I was first given the diagnosis of IBS without so much as an abdominal exam. As you probably know, a lot of people who have issues due to adhesions will probably never know it, or even know what adhesions are or what they can do, like we on this forum are aware of.
I have been told by physical therapists that I am very tight and must have adhesions, but of course if I mention adhesions to a doctor, they become hostile and my relationsip with them is pretty much over. My symptoms started after a mysterious pop in the lower right quadrant followed by what I think was some kind of fluid- some kind of injury or maybe even a burst ovarian cyst which could have resulted in massive endo with adhesions. So until or unless I find a doctor who is unwilling to consider adhesions, my 'official' diagnosis will always be IBS. And IBS isn't worthy of assistance from doctors to help protect a patient's job, apparently. Adhesions most likely wouldn't be either, in a lot of cases from what I hear. Maybe because in either case, there is no way to prove your pain, I guess.