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My wife is a nurse and is currently on maternity leave. For reasons with work life balance, she wishes to possibly look at another job for when she is ready to go back to work. She has a promising interview this week that might turn into a job offer.

If this is the case, she would want to give two weeks notice to her current employer, but these two weeks would occur well before she is supposed to get back to work.

When giving two weeks and one is on family medical leave (viewed as short term disability in the US), would this be considered a reason to blacklist the person from future employment?

She is concerned because she works for a near monopoly, and if this other job doesn't work out, she would be in serious trouble finding a job.

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    Congratulations on your new baby! We're discussing your questions over here: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/2228/… – Jim G. Dec 15 '13 at 19:15
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    I'd think you would have 9 months on this given human gestation periods. – Rig Dec 16 '13 at 4:00
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    The blacklist is a real problem. It technically should not be legal, but certainly could be a possibility. My wife turned in notice while on maternity leave and took another job. I left just prior from the same company (and team) so I couldn't say how things were received, but they indicated at the time that if she changed her mind they would love to have her back. – Bill Leeper Dec 17 '13 at 1:08
  • @BillLeeper: Not to get into too much of an extended discussion; but why would you think it technically shouldn't be legal? A large part of the US is right to work where employment is at will. I agree with the truly illegal reasons stopping employers for not hiring people (race, etc) but consider that if an employee has left once they are at a much higher risk of leaving quickly a second time. That said, I think that, from a company perspective, the lower risk is in hiring an unknown than in rehiring one that left unless your choices are limited. – NotMe Dec 18 '13 at 2:00
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    @Chris Lively I think blacklisting in general is unethical, but in the case of maternity you have potential medical considerations that come in to play and blacklisting in that case could very well run against rules barring employers from asking or considering medical history, gender, etc. when making hiring decisions. – Bill Leeper Dec 18 '13 at 18:45
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When giving two weeks and one is on family medical leave (viewed as short term disability in the US), would this be considered a reason to blacklist the person from future employment?

It might be different in the nursing profession, but in places where I have worked, it's pretty much a tossup when a woman takes a maternity leave if she will ever actually return. It's never a surprise when they don't.

Usually, it's because the mother never actually planned to resume work after the leave was complete. But I know of one other occasion where the mother found a new job waiting for her after her maternity leave and thus never returned.

I've also had people take a 1-month vacation (back to their home country), give a notice within their vacation time, then never return. Maternity leave, paternity leave, leave for other reasons - it happens.

In the software world, while it might cause bad feelings, it wouldn't cause a blacklist.

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This answer does not answer the original question about blacklisting. However, I think it's important enough to deserve a separate answer rather than a comment.

She needs to be very careful with this. If she is currently on FMLA leave (Family Medical Leave Act) and quits while on it, the company can require repayment of the company's share of health plan premiums that they paid while she was on FMLA leave. They can also stop health care benefits (subject to COBRA) immediately upon learning that she doesn't plan to return to work. Some info here. The particular statement is in 825.311 and more detailed information in 825.213.

Many companies probably won't bother trying to recover the premiums. If word got out, it could be a public relations nightmare, but the possibility is there.

Thanks to Joe Strazzere for a link to better information.

  • Oh my... thank you for that information, but your link is behind a paywall. Do you have a freely available version online that people can access? – maple_shaft Dec 16 '13 at 18:33
  • It doesn't! I thought about adding a comment about that...I'll update my link to Joe's much better one. – mkennedy Dec 16 '13 at 19:08
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A company that somehow has a "near monopoly" status is generally large enough that they have well defined rules with regards to "blacklisting" a departing employee from the possibility of returning. The following assumes it's a large company.

These will be defined in either the employee handbook or by HR policies which she should be able to get access to.

Generally speaking, the only times I've seen people "blacklisted" has been if one of the following situations apply:

  1. Terminated for Cause.
  2. Performance prior to leaving left a lot to be desired.
  3. Manager fills out the exit interview stating that employee is not eligible for rehire.

That 3rd option is generally the biggie. If she leaves things in such a way that the manager is unhappy then they will likely leave a black mark on her record; which would be reviewed by HR if she reapplies for work.

That said, I completely agree with Joe: when a woman goes on maternity leave most managers know it's a complete crapshoot as to whether she will return or not. She might very well have every intention of returning right up until she sees the baby then decides she simply couldn't leave the little bugger in day care. The thing is, anyone that has been in that situation (ie: had a baby) knows this. They leave the door open just in case the employee returns (it is the law) but they aren't counting on it.

Another thing that impacts an employees ability to return is simply demand for her job skills. If demand is pretty good in your area then the company will likely do what it can to ensure it can rehire her if the situation presents itself. The flipside is that if the market is flooded with workers with a similar skill then HR might very well skip over her just to get someone new.

The tldr; version of the above is: only the company she works for can really answer this question. Unfortunately you are unlikely to get a real answer until it comes time to try it out.

  • There is something of a glut in nurses in this region lately. I know right, the nerve of people to desire being paid a living wage. – maple_shaft Dec 16 '13 at 0:36
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    @maple_shaft: If she's serious about moving to a new job then how she leaves might very well help keep the door open. At this point it would be pretty easy for her to talk to her boss and simply say that she wants to stay at home for awhile; most people understand this. That would leave things on a positive note. If the new job doesn't work out then she could call her old boss and say that she's changed her mind... Not exactly 100% honest but that hasn't stopped people before. – NotMe Dec 16 '13 at 0:39
  • Great suggestion! A little white lie sometimes hurts nobody, and helps one. – maple_shaft Dec 16 '13 at 10:37
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I don't see a problem. Having a child changes personal and professional lives, so it's a valid reason to find a job that is more conducive. I wouldn't just give 2 weeks notice if at all possible.

When people go on extended leave, they usually tie-up loose ends on projects, clients, etc. and do some sort of helping with the transition to a replacement. In a way, they've already replaced her, so I don't think resigning while on leave presents a lot of problems.

Finding enough good nurses is hard enough in many part of the world, so I don't think too many companies can afford to "blacklist" anyone with a good performance record because of one incident that isn't job performance related.

  • We unfortunately live in a rust-belt part of the US where the major employers were all once industrial and are now overseas or paying crap wages. The few good paying careers around here are nurses and people know this, so there have been a lot of people over the past decade becoming nurses and not wanting to leave the area because of family ties. Exacerbate this problem with this being a city of more conservative/family values so many of the nurses are women who aren't primary bread winners and would rather stay at home anyway so they are willing to wait for opportunity. Nurses are common. – maple_shaft Dec 16 '13 at 10:43
  • Your wife may want to consider other benefits of the new position beyond short-term work-life balance. Depending on the level of "family values" of her supervisor or whoever may comment on this issue, she should present it as a compromise between keeping this job and staying at home full-time. – user8365 Dec 16 '13 at 13:53
  • I gave you a +1 for the last line... the rest of your answer could and should be discarded imo. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 31 '13 at 15:27

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