I was struck with a serious illness and had to stay home for several days so I began to call my boss each day to inform him of my status. He told me it wasn't necessary to call him "every single day" while I was out sick (he seemed annoyed) and that I should just make sure my medical note was submitted to the company's third party absence management center (which I did my first day back). The following week he called me to a meeting with HR, they told me he hadn't received word from them that the note was submitted and since I hadn't kept in touch with him every day, they would have to suspend me for two weeks without pay. I let them know that I was following my boss's instruction & that they could confirm with the absence management center that I followed procedure but my words fell on deaf ears. Two days after I returned to work, the absence management center confirmed that the medical note was received. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can help prevent this sort of misunderstanding in the future? Could you shed any light as to my boss's behavior? Thanks.
I should just make sure my medical note was submitted to the company's third party absence management center (which I did my first day back).
There's your mistake. Your boss said to submit your note, and you wouldn't need to call each day. You've stopped calling, but didn't submit the note until you came back. If the note says you are going to be off for a certain time, get it to them as soon as you can, especially if it's a third party who deal with it.
If you don't have the note, keep calling (no matter how irate your boss gets, if you are going to do it for several days ask him if there is someone in HR you could call instead).
Your boss will not be backing you up as he'll have HR breathing down his neck saying you didn't submit a note as they won't have had visibility.
I would submit a written complaint to HR that the HR rep studiously and disrespectfully ignored my narrative until the absence management center confirmed the medical note.
I would write a note to my boss telling him that I followed his instructions and that I don't appreciate his failure to back me up and tell HR that I was following his instructions when HR started to penalize me. I would tell him that going forward, I will follow company procedure to the letter and call him EVERY day that I am sick whether he feels it necessary or not. I would cc: his managers and HR.
Until your boss proves otherwise, he cannot be relied upon to tell you the correct instructions. You'll have to rely on yourself and get the right instructions from HR and the absence management center. I suggest that you make a photocopy of your medical note the next time you get sick - You can produce that photocopy the next time the HR rep opens his mouth.