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.

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    Does this guy have trouble standing up for his subordinates? From your narrative, he sounds like a pretty ratty individual. Is my perception correct? – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 2 '14 at 7:56
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    HR and everyone else should also consider that someone "struck with serious illness" is struck with a serious illness and might not be in a state that allows them to follow all company procedures. – gnasher729 Oct 2 '14 at 9:15

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.

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    Or keep in touch via email or text message instead of calling, provided company rules allow this. That way you'll also have a paper trail. – Jenny D Oct 2 '14 at 9:09
  • I agree with @JennyD. If I need to take a sick day, I always email. The only reason I would call would be if I was missing something major. – David K Oct 2 '14 at 12:23
  • well that depends on the workplace, I've worked places where you HAD to phone in in person, no email/sms/proxy except in severe circumstances. Also given the issues, it's too easy to claim not to have seen the message. At least a call you can say you've actually spoken to the boss. – The Wandering Dev Manager Oct 2 '14 at 12:31
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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    At this point I would be looking for another job. The rat of a boss cost her two weeks pay! I might also consult a labor lawyer to see if it would be possible to sue to get that pay back. – HLGEM Oct 2 '14 at 11:27
  • @HLGEM Since the absence management center acknowledges that they have her medical note, HR should acknowledge she is in the clear. She should make an attempt on her own to get her pay back from HR on that basis before going through her legal options - it's less expensive on her and gets her pay back more quickly if her attempt succeeds. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 2 '14 at 12:18
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    The reason I suggesting consulting alaywer is that the intital consultation to see if you have a possible case is often free. If they say yes legally you can recover the money, she can go ask HR about it and if they say no, she can say, "but my lawyer says..." which are magic words to use with HR. Iwoudl not go for hiring a lawyer, just a free initial consult if she can find one. – HLGEM Oct 2 '14 at 13:20
  • @HLGEM Nice thinking :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 2 '14 at 13:25
  • ANd I probably would not do this unless I had made up my mind to find a new job too. It depends on how marketable you are and how much you need the job as to whther it is worth it to annoy the organization still further. – HLGEM Oct 2 '14 at 13:39

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