Monday, August 8, 2011

FMLA advocacy

I have decided to fight hard against my company’s decision that intermittent FMLA cannot be used to pursue fertility treatments. I think I have a great case. If you read from the bottom up, you can see our conversation in May. The top is the draft I’m going to send this week.

Please let me know if you have anything to add, and feel free to borrow my words to use in your own advocacy if necessary. If you feel so inclined to link to this post so I can receive more input, I’d very much appreciate it.

Edit: I have deleted the rest of the email chain for privacy reasons.

I feel strongly that this matter deserves another look. Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system, and in Illinois there is a mandate for group insurance plans to cover infertility just like any other medical condition.

As FMLA can be used to attend to your own serious health condition (link to company’s intranet and leave definitions), I fail to see why infertility treatments do not qualify.

I recently completed an in-vitro fertilization attempt that required six days out of the office. In addition, I’ve had laparascopic surgery to treat endometriosis this year, which required two days off, and I took additional time to pursue other, less invasive treatment options before finally turning to IVF. All of this time was used attending to a medical condition that is standing in the way of building my family.

My IVF attempt was unsuccessful; therefore, I am looking at taking an additional 6 days before the end of 2011, and perhaps twice that if the second attempt is also unsuccessful.

I admire (Company)’s commitment to helping employees find a work-life balance, and the company’s goal to promote diversity. I feel that excluding infertile employees from utilizing FMLA in this matter directly contradicts both of these aims.

I have formed a local RESOLVE Peer-Led Infertility Support group, and through that experience I know that other large corporations here in town do allow employees to take intermittent FMLA in this instance.

Since it seems to be a subjective decision, I would greatly appreciate a chance to meet with the person who makes the decision to present my case. In a legal gray area, I feel decisions should be made in favor of employees who are already under enormous emotional and financial strain.



mommyodyssey said...

Very well written! And good for you for not letting up on it! I'm sure they can't say no to an appeal, when you state the facts so eloquently.

missohkay said...

I think your letter is great! Very thoughtful points laid out in a calm matter-of-fact way. I hope you send it and change their minds. It shouldn't always be about doing the minimum required by law - if they truly value their people, anyway!

Mrs. M said...

I think your letter is very articulate and well-done, especially compared to HR's clunky writing (yikes). My advice would be to add a few things in addition to what you have.

Firstly, I'd offer to complete tasks away from the office. I'm not sure what your job is, but offering still looks good on paper. "While I cannot be physically in the office, I can still be doing my job at a high capacity; I am not requesting time off from accomplishing my work, but simply flexibility." You might even want to replace any time you've talked about taking leave or getting days off and rephrase that as "working away from the office." Later, once your foot is in the door, you can THEN negotiate how much you can reasonably accomplish away from the desk with your boss, not with HR.

Secondly, call yourself a valuable asset to your team at Company X, and say that despite the challenges that you are facing and the flexibility it will require regarding in-office work hours, you have no intention of allowing this situation to impact your overall value to the company. Say something like "I am approaching the challenge of infertility with care, research, dedication, and confidence in positive outcomes - all values that Company X shares. I am willing to think creatively and flexibly to accomplish two things at once: fertility treatments and my important job at Company X, but I need Company X to think creatively and flexibly with me."

Ultimately, companies don't care about employees. They want to know that their precious bottom line is being protected, especially in these horrible economic times. If you point out that the company values a work-life balance, point out that you share their belief that a work-life balance makes more effective employees. Never letting them think that they're going to lose money on you, I think, will be the key to winning this battle.

I'm hoping, wishing, and praying for you on this one!

Marissa said...

I think your letter is awesome. Professional and well-reasoned.

One thing I would maybe look into is "quality of life". If they allow FMLA for "quality of life" issues (so, like breast reconstruction following cancer, choclear implants for hearing loss, etc.), then I think your case is even stronger.

Their main arguement seems to be that if you're directly treating your endo, it's covered. If you're trying to do things that you can't do *because* of your endo (get pregnant), it's not. So finding something like that--not only do people get time off to treat cancer, but they also get time off to deal with the non-essential but obviously important issues like body image--would strengthen your argument.

Chickenpig said...

Right on! Well done!

I don't understand why infertility isn't considered a medical condition. My sister was able to get intermittent FMLA to drive my mom to the city to get chemo treatments, anyone trying to get pregnant should be able to get the same. Trying to create a life is as valid a choice as trying to save one, IMHO. I would definitely follow the 'quality of life' issue.

Roccie said...

I came back the day after Toddlerina's transfer to a bad work environment (long story but divorce in the senior management family and a lot of finger pointing).

I turned my PC off and walked out the door. I called in my intent for 10 days FMLA - no prior notice and no preauthorization. Damned if I would let those bastards stress me out and ruin my chances at a BFP.

I work in an IL based firm.

Go for it.

bodegabliss said...

That is so great! Good for you.

Alex said...

Great letter! I'm so glad you're doing this!