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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

When personal issues affect employee performance:
Answer to an Employee Relations case study

What did this supervisor do right?

  • Scheduling a private meeting with the employee to discuss her work performance issues was a positive step.
  • The supervisor provided the employee with contact information for the Employee Assistance Program, stressing that EAP is a free, confidential service available to employees and their families to deal with issues, problems, or concerns. This gave the employee an avenue to seek help and begin the road to recovery.
  • The supervisor recognized that this employee might need time off to begin dealing with these issues. Often, employees feel they must deal with home and work issues in tandem.

What could this supervisor have done better?

  • Discussing performance issues, absenteeism, or tardiness with an employee when you first begin to observe the problem can help resolve it at the lowest level possible. When problems are ignored, they can escalate and are almost always harder to handle.
  • This supervisor allowed himself to be swayed from the purpose of the meeting, which was to discuss work-related issues. Information was provided to the employee on help available for issues outside of the office, but the conversation should have stayed focused on the work performance and the expectations being laid out. Upon the employee's return from leave, this conversation will have to start all over again.
  • Employee Relations should be contacted to discuss this case. Vacation time might have been appropriate, but Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) information should also have been provided. Depending on proper medical documentation, provided by the employee's health care provider, she might have qualified for a medical/sick leave of absence. If an employee discusses the possibility of a serious health condition, such as depression or alcoholism, or treatment for such, and needs time off to address these problems, FMLA leave information should be provided.
  • If the employee needs additional time off beyond the job-protected 12 weeks of leave, then Employee Relations would have to consider whether the employee's condition rises to the level of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If Employee Relations determines that the employee is protected under the ADA, then additional leave could be a reasonable accommodation.

- Connie Reckowsky
Employee Relations


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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.