Wednesday, June 15, 2011

With the good comes the pain in know..

So, the good news is that I feel good. I'm out of antibiotics, I'm not in pain, and (with the exception of being a bit tired), I feel pretty darn great. That's a huge relief and makes me very happy.

However, I had to start dealing with HR yesterday and it's not fun. I'm not going to get too worked up yet because the gal I was dealing with didn't seem to really understand what was going on, so I'm going to assume she spoke falsely some of the time. If I hear back from her boss and it's the same, then I'm going to be irritated.

It all started with mass panic in my department office when I spoke of taking some time off in the Spring. You would have thought that I had suggested murder. The assistants (who work on the schedule) freaked out and started making me feel terrible. After all, if you deliver at Thanksgiving, they said, that's eight weeks until the semester starts. You don't need more than eight weeks.

I know it makes their life difficult, but this is almost 100% surely my last child and I am going to take some time. So then they went on to, well, we'll have to take away your spring courses and when you come back, you'll just have to take whatever is available. As Brian pointed out, that might not work so well legally since it's essentially punishing me for having a baby, but we'll see.

In short, my boss said I had to speak to HR. This is new. Last time I spoke to my big boss (she's now in charge of two departments, so I'm dealing with someone who just took this position a few weeks ago) and she arranged everything. When I mentioned this to HR, they said, "Yeah, well, we haven't exactly been doing things legally for a few years." Good to hear! Let's start now and be a pain in my wazoo.

In short, she informed me that she was faxing my doctor to ensure that I'm being truthful. I gathered this is standard practice. Then, she told me that I am allowed to take only as long as the doctor clears me for. She said for most births, that's six weeks (I think a c-section is more like eight, though), and that if I wanted any more, I could take an additional six that were unpaid.

So, I mentioned the fact that I have ten weeks of sick leave stored up. Can I add any of that on to my doctor-approved leave? Well, my doctor approved leave will eat up six of those weeks (or eight) - and she's trying to tell me that while we're on winter break, I'm still taking my sick leave - that's not happening at all! Then she says I can't use my own sick leave to add on to it because that's not what it's for. I finally convinced her to ask a superior on that one. I really hope she's wrong.

My boss wants me to work from home after I have the baby. He would like me to create some kind of online, independent final project that I would collect and grade so he wouldn't have to put in subs at that point. I wanted to hang onto my two internet courses in the spring for the few weeks I'm out. Apparently, I'm not allowed to legally do this, since I'm on "medical" leave. If that's the case, then the students are getting a sub. I'm getting charged out the wazoo for sick leave (full weeks, even though I am physically on campus only 3x a week), and if they're saying I'm sick, I'm not working. Now, give me a break on my sick leave here and there - like take four days a week or something, and I'm willing to negotiate.

In short, it's all a pain. I'm going to wait to hear back from HR - this could be today, or it could be in a month. After that, I'm writing to my boss and the big boss to explain the situation because I'm pretty sure the big boss can fix a lot of this on her own.

My perfect plan right now? I'd like to take off the end of the fall semester - approximately 2.5 weeks and 3 weeks in the spring, returning about Feb. 13. I don't think that's a lot to ask as a new mother, but apparently I'm asking for the world here because I want more than my winter break and more than my doctor allotted time. Way to make me feel like a heel, guys! Thanks!

So, I'm trying to not think about it and not worry. It will work out somehow. As Brian said, if they don't approve the spring leave, we'll just start my leave at the beginning of November so that I have time to hang out. Either way, we'll do ok, but it's frustrating to deal with these people and policies. It's like it's their life's mission to be difficult (and it may be :)

The other downer is that I usually teach an overload each semester (6 classes instead of 5) in order to make some extra money, but that's not going to happen in the spring. The only way to do that would be to take on an additional English 110 course, and that's just too much. That would leave me with 2 English 105's, 3 English 110's, and 1 Reading 104 - in other words, five writing-intensive courses. I do four right now, and sometimes it's just like drowning in grading. With the new baby, I just can't do that. Hopefully we won't take too much of a financial hit. The bright side is that it's a three-day-a-week schedule, so that saves on some daycare and gas. We may break even on that deal.

Ok - work needs to take a back seat. It's summer and that's the focus. Everything else will work out somehow; I just need to not worry about it (WAAAY easier said than done!),


  1. What a cluster f@#k!!
    I hope you find out the person you talked to just didn't know what they were talking about.
    However, I think it might be the case that NO ONE in HR knows what they are talking about!

  2. I think it's entirely possible that you are correct. *deep sigh*

  3. Probably not what you want to hear, but...I think if you're taking offical medical leave (as recommended by a doctor) you are not allowed to work. When I took medical leave two years ago, I thought that I'd be able to keep up with my emails and check in with clients, etc and that plan was shot down immediately (and we didn't even have HR). State laws could be different, but that was how it worked leagally here.

    One other thought--do you qualify for FMLA? If so, that should allow you to take 12 weeks off after Baby Bean's birth. You may have to take some of them as unpaid time off, but you should get the time off.

    I hope I'm not being a downer--I say talk to the big boss no matter what because they can always fix things for good employees.


  4. Yeah - I know that I probably can't legally work, but if my boss wants me to work from home, I'm not doing it unless they swing something in the fall. For the spring, that would be my own sick leave and not "official" medical leave, so that would be up to the department, theoretically. We'll see.

    Yes; all of this is FMLA. My job will allow me to be paid for anything the doctor says is necessary, and then I can take unpaid up to twelve weeks. The two problems with that are, of course, one) it's unpaid and two) it counts time that I'm ordinarily on break, so it still doesn't quite work out well.

    I have a lot of faith in the big boss. She's pretty good at this stuff and knows how to make it work. But, as you know quite well right now, once you get a worry in your head, it just needles at you and makes you sick even if you think it will be ok or it's out of your hands. Blech!

    Not a downer at all. It's all just frustrating.