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Employee with PPD Florida

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  • Employee with PPD Florida

    Hi everyone, time for another one of my conundrums!

    I have an employee who left on FMLA/maternity leave on March 26. She was due to return to work on May 22 on a part-time, working from home basis, following a plan to return to gradually back to full-time, office-based employment. She was given a number of tasks that could be completed at home in her own time, not necessarily during regular work hours, so she could work around the baby's needs. Hwever, instead of working the 40 hours planned, she only did 4 hours in a two-week period. She was struggling with the new baby (her first) and so her manager allowed her to work whatever hours she could manage instead of following the agreement.

    In mid-June she called her manager in tears and asked to be dismissed. Her manager did her best to calm things down and then referred everything to me. I had a conversation with the employee who advised she was suffering from postpartum depression.

    I asked her if she needed to take any more time off work, but she said no, she needed the money. I arranged with her that instead of having a list of tasks to complete, she would only have one task at a time to reduce the stress; she didn't need to commit to set hours, but could work around her husband's availability and baby's needs. I asked her to keep her manager updated with progress by email and she suggested emailing weekly.

    Today, her manager tells me she is not keeping in contact, and hasn't sent through her timesheets. The department is desperate for help and the managers needs to make plans. Under the original gradual return to work plan, the employee is due back at work full time on July 19th. She has not made contact with either myself or her manager and has used up her FMLA entitlement, PTO and vacation time.

    I'm not sure legally where we stand. Can I ask her outright when she is planning to return to work? Is PPD classed as a disability so would the ADA come into effect? Naturally, I don't want to make her situation any more difficult than it is, but equally, I need to move things forward.

    I just need advice on how to tackle this sensitively but still find a resolution.

    Help! Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Right now what you have is simply a case of job abandonment . I would send her a letter stating that unless she gets in contact with you and has extenuating circumstances, you will consider that she voluntarily resigned her position due to job abandonment effective (last date worked). Do not assume she is suffering from anything. You actually have more liability if you do that. Not to mention it is her responsibility if she is suffering from some sort of disability to notify you and request an accommodation. A new mother who is adjusting to life with a baby is not disabled. She may not be ready, willing or wanting to work but she is not disabled and you are under no obligation to continue to create work for her. It sets all kinds of precedents you really do not want to set to do so. It may sound cold and heartless but I promise you that lawsuit from the next underperforming, poor attending employee who you do not bend over backwards for will be worse.

    Of course she wants you to fire her. She probably wants to collect unemployment. I would not do so. I would treat it as what it is, which is job abandonment. If she appeals UI and gets it, so be it, but I would not make the very expensive habit of "firing" those who no longer want to work for you so they can collect.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


    • #3
      Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate it.

      I agree with everything you say, but just to clarify, the working from home option she is currently on, is something we offer as standard for all our employees on maternity, long term sick etc. but it is for a set period of time which is why I am not looking to extend it.

      I must admit, I had the same thoughts about her asking to be fired and no, I'm not touching that with a 10-foot pole! I hadn't considered job abandonment because as far as I know, she is actually still working, she just hasn't provided an update. It is our payroll this week so she should be submitting a timesheet; if she does and provides an update on her workload, then I will have a better idea of the situation.

      Am I right in thinking then that I can just contact her and tell her that the return to work plan is ending. She is the one who told me she has PPD, but I don't have any paperwork from her to support that.

      Sorry for asking so many questions - back in the UK where I come from, we get to take up a year off work to have a baby!!!


      • #4
        If the update isn't due until later this week, wait for the due date like you would anyone else. If she is supposed to be checking in or sending progress reports and isn't, it is valid to remind her of this obligation and follow through with consequences for non-compliance (or her supervisor should- that is what supervisors are for). The supervisor not doing his/her job and monitoring this employee is another matter.

        If she has reached the end of the work at home time you normally extend or you would not normally extend the offer given her lack of communication and results, end it. Stick to the facts and just tell her that the arrangement has come to an end and she either returns to full duty employment or you will accept her resignation. Treat her exactly as you would anyone else.

        IF she claims she needs an accommodation due to a disability, I would ask for documentation of that disability and what accommodation is needed. I would have done this as soon as she claimed a medical condition but now is not too late but only if she brings it up. Once you have medical documentation you can start the interactive process to determine if an accommodation is necessary and possible. It need not be the one the employee wants and it must be reasonable. Being paid to stay home and not work and not keeping contact with the employer is not reasonable. A period of unpaid leave for a set duration of time while she is seeking treatment might be. I somehow doubt you will ever even see that bridge let alone need to cross it.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


        • #5
          Thank You

          As always, I would be lost without this forum! Thank you so much for your help Elle


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