There are federal and state laws in place to allow eligible employees to take time off of work to take care of their personal lives. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees who work for employers with 50 or more workers to take up to 12 weeks off work for a variety of reasons, including the birth of a child, serious illness and caring for a sick relative. This allows employees to take time off for legitimate reasons without the fear of losing their jobs. However, according to the non-profit legal advocacy group A Better Balance, many Walmart employees report that the company does penalize employees for utilizing their sick leave.
A woman who took leave after suffering a miscarriage reported being docked six or seven points for the time she missed from her job at a Walmart. Walmart disputes the story and stated that the woman did not give the company a medical reason for her absences.
However, A Better Balance found that Walmart does not even look at doctor’s notes from employees and that hundreds of workers have experienced punishment for missing work due to serious illness or disability. This refusal to read doctor’s notes allows Walmart to claim that they did not know about a worker’s illness.
Walmart also stands by their point system, stating that it prevents workers from abandoning their shifts at the last minute. However, this point system can put workers in a difficult position and punish employees for legitimate emergencies. Women are particularly affected when they have a child who has to be picked up early from school due to illness or injury.
If a worker is given a point for missing work for a legitimate reason, this may be a violation of federal and state law. The good news is that many companies nationwide are making efforts to improve their leave policies and allow employees to take care of themselves and their loved ones without having to sacrifice their jobs.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Walmart’s Sick Leave Policy Is Terrible, Especially For Women,” Emily Peck, June 12, 2017