Last Updated Jun 18, 2010 6:15 AM EDT
But, it is also irrelevant to your life. The reality is you have no idea what your coworkers' medical situations are. I would guess that with that high of a percentage of people utilizing FMLA, that some of them are not terribly ill, but I don't know. Furthermore, neither your manager nor your Human Resources department are capable of diagnosing medical conditions. They have to rely upon the judgment of the doctors that filled out the necessary paperwork. Even though it may seem obvious to you that they are exaggerating their conditions, you don't want medical decisions made by non-medical personnel.
There are lots of things they should be doing, but they aren't and you can't make them. So, yes, I think you and your coworkers should start looking for new jobs where managers have the guts to tell someone to stop talking and get back to work, and don't ignore people who watch television when they should be working.
You can go to your supervisor and make statements about how your life is being affected and ask for solutions. For instance, you can say, "We're falling behind on the production line because so many people are calling in sick on Fridays. What changes can we make to help us keep production levels up?" You can't say, "I think Paul and Jenny are lying about being sick. Have you noticed how they are always sick on Fridays?" Trust me, you boss notices. The whole management team notices; they are just choosing not to act on it in a way that is visible to you. (And they well could be acting on it in ways that aren't visible to you. Coworkers seldom know the extent to which a manager is handling a problem employee.)
But, if no improvements are forthcoming then yes, look elsewhere. Managers frequently make the mistake of being scared to handle a difficult situation, and thus drive away their good employees. (And yes, the situation is difficult. There are legal protections. Frequently illnesses that qualify for time off under FMLA also qualify for the Americans with Disabilities Act protection as well. And yes, you can still document poor work behavior and terminate people who qualify for both.) Theoretically, managers get paid more because they have to deal with the difficult situations. If yours aren't, find a company that will and then leave. The sad truth is, until some managers see the very real consequences of their mismanagement, they won't do anything.
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