Today is my mother's 79th birthday. Last year at this time, Mom was actively dying. Babygirl's health is always precarious. Citygirl had gotten married just a few months before, and my Dad died less than a month before THAT. All in all, I was running out of paid leave. So, for the first time, I put in paperwork for FMLA.
The Family Medical Leave Act is a legacy of the Clinton years. The rules are (relatively) simple. If your employer has more than 50 employees within a 50 mile radius, they must grant FMLA time to their (usually full-time, been-on-the-job-at-least-a-year employees). FMLA time is time off without pay (up to 6 months/year) for personal illness, illness in a family member where the employee's presence is needed to provide care, or the birth/adoption/foster placement of a child. The employer is required to hold the employee's job for them while they are off. Leave can be continuous or intermittent.
I applied for leave on Babygirl's behalf. I could just have easily used my mom, or myself, but my office manager played rock/paper/scissors for me and picked Babygirl. To get the leave, I had to fill out paperwork with human resources, and send papers to her doctors. It was a pain, because they didn't do it right the first time and I had to send them back, and I was crazed between work and home and hospital and grief and family and... Well, you get the idea. (Side note: One of my elderly patients mentioned to me this week that I look much better this year than I did last year. I wasn't sure if I was flattered or horrified. Needless to say she passed her dementia screening.)
This year, around the beginning of November I had a flash of foresight and checked to see when my FMLA was due to expire, realizing that after having been ill much of the summer that I was in the same situation I was in LAST year in terms of remaining time off for the year. There was less than a month left, so I sent in an application.
Within a day I got an email denying my request for leave because I had to wait another two weeks (until just two weeks before the old leave expired - which, given how complex it is to set the leave up in the first place just seems rediculous in my opinion but nobody ever asks me) and reapply.
Needless to say, I totally forgot all about it. Until this week.
Last week I had noticed that out checking account balance seemed a little low. Since Hubby and I both have access to the account, and both of us have been known to make purchases (pharmacies and gas stations being the most common) without recording them, I have a habit of keeping a pretty large balance hidden in the account. I assumed that Hubby (or I) had paid something and failed to write it down. But when I got our bank statement on Tuesday, I realized that my last paycheck was substantially less than it should have been. Since it is direct deposit and there are no paystubs, I had no idea at all that this had happened.
When I got to work on Wednesday I checked online and discovered I had been paid for only part of the two weeks I worked. There was no obvious explanation in the pay document as to why, so I called my manager, and she discovered that I was no longer on her payroll. AT. ALL. Awesome.
It turns out that despite being denied FMLA leave, despite having no medical documentation of my need for FMLA leave, and despite having applied for intermittent FMLA leave, I had mysteriously been granted continuous leave, beginning when my old leave expired. I had unknowingly been working full-time without pay for about three weeks, and was less than two days away from my next paycheck, which was officially set to be $0. That's a FABULOUS paycheck to get two days before Christmas, aye?
My office manager worked on this frantically for two days, but at the end of it all, I'm not paid. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Thankfully that built-in buffer that I leave in my account kept us from bouncing things all over the place. But it isn't big enough to catch everything that is going to start pulling out of our account at the end of next week, so here's hoping they get this figured out.