Pressured To Work While Injured

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about injury and medical leave:

My mother is on medical leave due to a broken wrist. She works in a nursing home putting charts and information into the computer and submitting to state.She is the only one who knows how to do her job, and her employers have been pressuring her to come to work even though she has doctor orders not to. The last time she was off work for health issues they convinced her to work most of the time anyway. Both times she isn’t even supposed to be driving. Are there any laws that prohibit employers from behaving this way? I’m looking for a way to put a stop to this.

Signed, Standing Up For Mom

Dear Standing Up For Mom:

We aren’t a legal site and it sounds as though you might want to either do some legal research or ask an attorney, HR expert or the Department of Labor in your state. However, we are a workplace communications site so we do have some thoughts about things for you to consider.

1. The easiest way for your mother to avoid being pressured is not to answer the phone or respond to emails about work. I realize that may be easier for me to say than for her to do! She knows she will be going back there and won’t want to make them angry. However, she could at least limit the time in conversations with them.

2.If she could give them a timeline to count on, maybe that would at least reassure them that she will be back soon. Maybe she could find a due-back date from her doctor.

3. If your mother is the only one who can do a vital task, you can see why her employers are concerned. That is another reason to talk to an attorney or to your state’s Department of Labor. There is precedent for replacing employees whose continued absence could cause extreme harm to the business, so that is a matter to check on.

4. It could be that your mother would like to get back to work. Is it possible she could work a flex-schedule? Perhaps her employers could provide her with transportation for that.She may have already described her work to the doctor. If not, she could do so and ask if it would cause further damage to her wrist or harm her in some way. Or, perhaps she could be transported to the nursing home and direct someone else in how to do the work. She may not want to be there at all–I’m just trying to consider options that have worked for others.

The bottom line is that your mother shouldn’t let her employers keep asking and wheedling. They may think if they just try a bit harder she’ll say yes. She should courteously say she can’t come in and then stick with that. If they keep asking she could say it’s adding to her stress level to have to keep arguing about it. That would probably stop them! I hope your mother is back to her usual good health and full capabilities soon. She’s obviously a highly valued employee. Many people would love to be in her situation as far as THAT is concerned.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this was resolved. Best wishes to both of you.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.