I know most people aren’t on board with the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) yet, but how about taking some baby steps?
In a Washington Post job advice column, someone wrote in to ask what to do when your supervisor wants a doctor’s note every time:
“I have been certified for Family and Medical Leave Act time off for an ongoing problem that requires frequent tests and treatments (leaving an hour early twice a month, on average). My supervisor is not happy about this and is requiring me to submit proof that I attended the appointment and that I had the appointment…Should I just be grateful that I have FMLA and jump through these hoops, or should I start tracking this as a hostile work environment? It feels hostile.”
The supervisor isn’t happy about it? WTF? Does the supervisor think the employee is happy about having an ongoing medical problem that requires frequent tests and treatments? Should the employee have been more sensitive to the supervisor’s needs when choosing to have health problems?
And the supervisor wants two doctor’s notes per visit? Double WTF. Shouldn’t one note per visit be plenty? Does the employee really need to prove both that they had an appointment scheduled, and that they showed up? Does the supervisor really think the employee would schedule doctor’s appointments and not show up (and probably be charged anyway), just to get out of work? Or that they’d show up without a scheduled appointment, just to waste time?
The columnist’s advice was to just suck it up, and sadly I have to agree. Any action the employee took would do more harm than good. Technically the supervisor is free to make the employee jump through these hoops. They could probably require live streaming video of the appointments, if they wanted to.
At the same time, just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it a good idea. Why does the supervisor think this is the best use of their time? Do they really keep a file of the employee’s doctor’s notes, and make sure that every appointment confirmation note is eventually paired with an appointment attendance note?
Who cares if someone leaves an hour early twice a month for medical reasons? I don’t know what the job is, but this time off can’t be that disruptive. And it’s more of a trust issue than anything else. The supervisor isn’t objecting to the doctor’s appointments so much as doubting that they’re taking place.
If an employee isn’t performing well, fire them. If they are, stay out of their way. Don’t make them write to the Washington Post to ask if they should start tracking their job as a hostile work environment. What does that do for morale, and therefore job performance?