One of the employees who I supervise has been on a medical leave of absence for two weeks. The other day I was running an errand during my lunch break and ran into this same employee at Starbucks. I recommended to my manager that we discipline and perhaps terminate her for misuse of leave, but he was too nervous to take action. He told me just to update the file by requesting additional information from her doctor. How can I get my manager to stop being a wimp so I can effectively supervise my staff?
Instead of wondering how to make your manager stop being a wimp, why don’t you try not being an ass? Your employee is on sick leave. She is not under house arrest. Cool your jets and listen to your boss. The less you say, the smarter you will seem. I’m certain of it.
— Evil Skippy
There are many instances when an employee is not well enough to work even though he or she is well enough to run errands or otherwise get out of the house. Unless there is a blatant inconsistency between what you know about your employee’s supposed condition and the ability to visit a coffee shop, you are overreacting by immediately thinking of discipline. Maybe she is misusing her leave; maybe she isn’t.
Your manager together with H.R. can verify – perhaps after consulting with your legal representatives – whether seeking additional information from the employee’s medical provider is appropriate in your situation. I strongly recommend that you consider having your boss or human resources representative be the one to contact the employee if you decide to seek a medical update about her need for sick leave. You might sound accusatory or just plain cranky if you make the call.