And So It Begins…

February 28, 2010 by Michelle

So do you remember back on ohhhh January 5 when I told you about how I had completed one of my goals for the new year? That would be almost exactly two months ago now.

Why don’t you go grab something to drink and eat as I give you the update on my saga. We last left off when I had requested a leave of absence from my work – with a resignation letter typed up just in case – and my boss agreeing to a ninety day leave.

The next step was to figure out how. So I read the information on our intranet. While we have two kinds of leave – FMLA and personal leave – they don’t differentiate well between the two, and there is no information about how to submit a personal leave.

January 5: I submitted a case to the online HR (it’s all centralized now, whee!). I asked whether my situation qualified for FMLA or personal leave and, if personal leave, how I went about submitting it.

January 8: I called the 800 number for HR to inquire about my case, as it had been the three business day turnaround and I’d yet to hear a word. I was told that my case had been assigned to someone who would contact me with an answer. They couldn’t help provide me with any info, nor could they give me an estimated turnaround time.

January 12: I received an email announcing that my case was closed and that to submit FMLA, I had to call an 800 number. Well, let’s see. That a) repeated what was online word for word b) didn’t answer the question of what I qualified for and c) skipped over the question on how to submit a personal leave. I immediately reopened it and requested an update on the specific questions I had.

January 15: I submitted a question to my online case (the only way I had to converse with HR on my case) asking for an update on the status.

January 21: I submitted another request for an update, since I’d yet to hear a word.

January 25: My case is once again marked closed. I am told that they cannot decide what is a personal v FMLA leave and that I should instead just apply for FMLA and see what happens. Seriously? Seriously, this is the solution you give me after almost three weeks of waiting?

January 26: I submit my FMLA claim and am told that paperwork will be processed and sent to me within 24 hours. I was to fill out my section of paperwork, then have my physician complete the remainder of it and return it. (The FMLA came about based on some of the behavior regression we’re seeing with Mister Man – with me being at home and getting him into a more regular routine, the hope is that we can help stem this.)

February 1: The FMLA paperwork arrives in the mail. Again, it takes a week to mail something now? I fill out all the paperwork for my side and take it to the pediatrician – who of course is off until that Thursday.

February 4: The pediatrician calls me and asks about where we stand on some of the steps we’d talked about when I’d brought Mister Man in previously. As I was seeing a specialist on February 8, she requested that we hold off on turning in the paperwork until we heard from that person.

February 8: I waste four hours of my time at a doctor who doesn’t want to see us. I’m highly irritated.

February 9: We have a massive snowstorm, and I leave work early. When I get home at 3, I try to connect to my work remotely, as I do every day. I can’t connect. A call to the help desk later, we discover that I have mistakenly been put on leave and my access has been blocked. I ask my boss to submit a case to online HR (sound familiar?) reinstating me.

February 11: (Note, I am off work here and in Florida.) The pediatrician calls me to chat about our next steps and what I heard from the specialist. She agrees to fill out the paperwork and fax it in.

February 12: From Florida, I call the 800 number for the HR help to find out where my reinstatement is. Again, I am told that the case has been assigned to “someone” and that they will get back to me when they have a resolution. I explain the urgency and need that I am reinstated, to no avail.

February 15: I am still unable to log in from home, so I rearrange my childcare and go into the office. I finally get ahold of the person who is assigned to my case who is remarkably helpful and gets me reinstated immediately. He also actually answers all the questions I have on leaves from the previous closed case. I had given up on ever getting answers to those questions, but now I completely understand.

February 16: I get a call from the FMLA administrator saying that they have rejected the claim as the pediatrician neglected to fill out two sections of it. I contact the pediatrician’s office, and I await another call from the pediatrician.

February 17: My boss and I decide that we are going to forget about the FMLA and just apply for a personal leave, now that I know how to do so from the conversation I had earlier this week with the helpful HR guy. We decide to wait until Thursday afternoon to apply for it starting three business days later.

February 18 4:45pm: I head to the pediatrician’s office to pick up a copy of the paperwork that I remember the pediatrician said she was leaving for me. When I pick it up, the nurse notices that it isn’t the same paperwork that is in the file. She makes a copy of the new paperwork for me. I notice that it has the two missing sections filled in and that it was faxed on the 15th.

February 18 5:15pm: I contact the benefits administrator (they were closed by the time I got home on the 19th) to see where my claim stands. They tell me that it was approved for a leave starting February 22. Ummm hold on a moment – so *I* have to call them to find out that it was approved. And it starts less than a business day later? I make arrangements to move the start date back a week so that I can transition some things at work. I cannot move the end date back a week and am hoping that my pediatrician will send in a note requesting the end date be changed. I then call my boss and let him know that the leave has finally been approved, and we don’t have to go the route of personal leave (where my job is not protected).

February 25: I work my last official day (I’m off on Fridays). It feels really weird to be handing so many things over to different people and to say goodbye to those I enjoy working with. I also realize that it takes almost three hours to upload my critical files to a shared drive so they can be accessed while I am off. So much for signing off at 5pm or shortly thereafter.

I never imagined that this would be a two month saga. I never dreamed it would take two weeks to figure this out. Yikes!

March 1: This is tomorrow. This is my first official day of leave where I would be working and can instead settle into a new routine. So what am I going to do? Do I go get a massage? Change the oil in my car? Go grocery shopping? Clean up and organize the PTO room? Help stuff invitations for Mister Man’s school event? Get a mani/pedi? Go to the gym and work out? The world is my oyster.

Orrrrr not. Nope, instead on Day One, I will be home with Little Miss, resident sickie.

Eleven weeks, four days to go. Wish me luck!

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    Comments

  • Laura


    Oh Michelle I feel your pain and so does everyone else who suffers through phone trees of hell! You know the unemployment problem in America could be solved by simply employing people to answer the phones and give out pertinent information.

  • Karen


    I just told my husband the other day that I want to hire someone to simply take care of the paperwork that I do daily. That kind of stuff will make you gray before your time.

    Hope that little one gets better quickly.

  • Pat


    Arrgghh…I felt like tearing my hair out just reading that!!

    Congratulations on finally getting an 11+ week leave. It will be so worth it for you and your family.

  • Fishsticks and Fireflies


    OMG! What a huge pain! I am so glad that it has finally been worked out and that you will be able to start your leave tomorrow.

    And I wish I could offer a suggestion of what you could do once Little Miss is better, but I am the one who, when I get 30 minutes thrown at me, freaks out because there are too many things that I want to do, and ends up doing nothing constructive.

  • Mary~Momathon


    Ridiculous! What a crazy process! Gosh, you could have taken a couple of months off already before they noticed and could decide what to think. Ha!

  • WeaselMomma


    What a way to start this road. I hope that the next 12 weeks works wonders for you.

  • Unknown Mami


    I've been wondering what was going on with this. Crazy! That just seems like way too much effort to get information.

    I wish you the best!

  • Michelle


    Laura – The worst part is that it isn't even a phone tree. It's talking to live people who have no ability to do anything! I'd rather have the phone tree ๐Ÿ™‚

    Karen – Ooooo, I like that idea. Did he go for it?

    Pat – Well, the paperwork came today, and it doesn't have the same end date that they'd given me on the phone, so we'll be working on that….

    Nichole – I got the 15k tuneup on my car today, so that's one thing off the list. And I got some PTO stuff done, and I'm procrastinating on more of it. *sigh*

    Mary – Oh people keep telling me that they thought I'd already taken my leave because it had been so long. Egads.

    WeaselMomma – Oh so do I. I'm really hoping to have some clarity at the end of this.

    Unknown Mami – Yeah… you'd think I would have been talking about the good life with the bon-bons by now, right? Ha!

  • Sherry


    WOW! What a saga! ๐Ÿ™ Sorry you had to go through all that.

  • Alexis AKA MOM


    OMGosh my dear what a heck of an ordeal! I'm sorry that you had to go threw it but I'm so glad you're on leave I hope it brings you everything you need! Enjoy the time sweetie!!!

  • septembermom


    That's exhausting for sure! Hope you enjoy your leave when you can. Go for the massage!

  • Michelle


    Sherry – It wasn't fun, but at least it was a positive end result – and there WAS an end result!

    Alexis – We'll see. So far sorta so good. Time is already flying though. Now you understand why you didn't get an update earlier!

    Kelly – Ummm yeah. I'm still waiting for the time for the massage. Someday. Maybe next week ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom


    Wow – are you sure we didn't work for the same company? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope this leave helps you clarify some things, and is good for all of you. The time goes by so quickly!

    Hugs,
    Steph

  • Michelle


    Steph – It sorta seems like maybe we should have, doesn't it? Unfortunately, I think it's more a statement of what is typical now….

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