Consult with your organization's human resources representative regarding sick leave issues and how to manage these absences and record the leave status. PAS can accept formal referrals from supervisors when employees have job performance issues, quality of work problems, conduct and behavioral issues, and attendance problems. So, consider referring your employee. Make it a formal referral. Is the employee unable to adequately perform his duties because of the absenteeism? If so, make note of it. It makes no difference whether the employee is being seen by a psychiatrist. This fact does not preclude a referral to PAS. Many issues could exist in this situation, including improper treatment, a problematic relationship with the doctor, poor medication compliance, sudden loss of medication effectiveness, and a host of other factors. PAS will obtain a release to communicate directly with the psychiatrist and assess what's going on. If the employee is reluctant to accept a referral, discuss next steps with PAS.
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Speak to your employee in private to inquire about this situation. Employees are your most valuable resource. Their safety is paramount, and your concern stems from this principle. Your suspicion is based on what you can see is a disheveled appearance, so you have enough to justify your concern. Sleeping in a car can be dangerous for many reasons, but it's important to help your employee feel comfortable enough to visit the PAS for help and assistance. According to one survey, one out of 10 employees has experienced homelessness due to a wide variety of financial problems. A referral to the PAS program can assist the employee with the emotional issues connected with this situation.
You are reporting that your employee's performance is acceptable and that you have no concerns after so many years. You should monitor his performance as you always have, and if problems return, engage PAS and follow the supervisor referral process recommended to you. There is no other action for you to take unless there is an active contract with Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW). If so, it would be appropriate to inform EOHW. Performance and ability to perform the position's essential functions are the dominant concerns of the employer. His potential relapse would be his personal medical concern for the moment. It is possible that the relapse will not affect his performance again, or problems could return. Your vigilance as a supervisor will help you intervene early if needed to provide support.
Recently a counselor at PAS called to let me know that my employee had self-referred to the program and signed a release so that I would know he was receiving assistance from PAS. The counselor was not permitted to discuss any other issues. I am glad he self-referred because I was considering a formal referral for attendance issues. Should I still make one?
In this case, you could make a formal referral or wait to see if the attendance issues clear up. Since a release has been signed, consider letting the PAS counselor know about the attendance issues, but do not expect follow-up reports, due to the limitations of the release. Without making a formal release, the employees' release may be rescinded at any time, leaving the PAS counselor without the ability to communicate with you. The counselor will not be able to acknowledge follow-through with recommendations or share status of participation. That said, none of this will interfere with your ability to manage performance. A formal supervisor referral allows you to request more structured (but not clinical) communication.
You may want to start by talking with someone at PAS to review the specifics of your circumstance. You may also find the following tips helpful:
- focus on job performance,
- be specific in describing behavior and examples,
- ask the employee if he/she understands the situation clearly,
- ask the employee to paraphrase what the supervisor has said,
- ask the employee for a commitment to change,
- set a specific time for follow-up and review,
- explain that the employee must decide whether he/she should seek help for any personal issue that may be contributing to the performance issue,
- explain clearly how PAS works, and discuss confidentiality,
- fully assure the worker that use of PAS does not affect job security or promotional opportunities, and it is not punitive in any way.
Personal assistance programs are in the business of helping employees resolve personal problems that may affect job performance, so it would never be advisable to encourage an employee to quit as a solution to his or her personal issues if PAS has not been given the opportunity to help the employee. It would be improper for PAS to endorse or discourage disciplinary or administrative actions, but a referral to PAS should be attempted early in the process of this situation you describe. If you have not done so, refer now. PAS can then help the employee make the best decision based upon all the issues discovered in the assessment interview.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) become relevant when your discussion centers on the existence of a medical problem. If your employee has not stated he or she is depressed or suffers with a condition that needs some sort of help to overcome, then it is better to focus just on the performance-related matters. You’re right; most people know a few or more symptoms of depression, but missing work, coming in late, staring off in a daze, or not engaging with fellow workers effectively enough to manage the work does not necessarily mean major depression. What’s more, these behaviors do not demonstrate that you know or should have known the worker is depressed. Acting as if the worker is depressed would also be relevant to employment laws. The behaviors listed above alone are enough for a supervisor referral. At PAS, the issue of depression or some other condition with similar symptoms will be explored.