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While out on sick leave, found out I am being "replaced"

Hello, I was in a pretty bad car accident in mid May, sustained a back injury. I have been out on medical leave since then. All of my necessary documentation has been sent to H.R., and I have been updating them very often on my status, including contacting my manager and doing the same. A very good friend and colleague who works in my unit had been told by another nurse in our unit that since i am out on leave and they are short staffed, the manager has asked the nurses to write down names of other RN's in our hospital who may want to switch to our department to "replace" me. Mind you, we are ALWAYS short staffed...I work in an extremely busy ER and we routinely have 4 RN's on at night, which is ludicrous and unsafe...but that's another story. So...my being out on leave may be inconvenient, however it is not the cause of the short-staffed-ness, thus, replacing me is not the solution, right? Unless...the manager is ****** that I am out on leave which is a very real possibility...although it is wrong on so many levels.Question...what do I do? I am not back to work per doctors orders...I am undergoing physical therapy and slowly getting back to myself. My friend was told by the other nurse NOT to say anything to me...(obviously), and I don't want to throw her under the bus. I am supposedly being "replaced" , not fired...as I think they may just transfer me to another unit...but this isn't legal, right? I am flabbergasted.Thanks for the advice.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 39 years experience.

Doesn't mean you don't stll have a job, but they do need to cover your shifts.

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

Your presence filled a need on your unit. Your absence creates a need on your unit.

You haven't been fired. You haven't been transferred. From your description your unit is "always short" so when you come back there will be work waiting for you. It's just that they don't want to be "always short +1" while you are gone, and they don't have any clue when you are coming back.

Not sure what is so upsetting to you.

Wow, really? I don't have a reason to be upset? My friend was told to "not say a word" to me about my being replaced...and I will most likely be moved to another unit. If the unit was appropriately staffed, being down one nurse wouldn't be such an issue. Second, having your colleagues and manager secretly planning to have you moved to anoer floor (with no choice) all because I was hurt in an accident and have done nothing against policy, is a horrible thing. Yes it's great to still have a job, but I think it is under handed and downright mean. Kicking a good staff member when she's down, punishment for having been in an accident. Nice.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

Where I work that is normal.If you are off for an extended sick leave your position will be posted as a temp position It is usually filled internally until you are back.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 9 years experience.

Well, first and most importantly this is heresay. Unless your manager told you this HERSELF you need to take it with a grain of salt, particularly the spin you are putting on it. And no, you should not be upset. Your unit needs nurses. Badly from the sound of it. Your being threatened by that is not going to do anything to ensure your place when you return. Heck, if you want to really be great, find someone to recommend to them. If you are still going to have a job when you return you have zero to be upset about and are working yourself up over nothing.

Don't trust he said she said. Period. All it is is a rumor unless you heard it from someone who matters.

BlueDevil,DNP, DNP, RN

Specializes in FNP, ONP. Has 25 years experience.

I understand why you are disappointed at your bad luck, but I don't understand why you are surprised by this turn of events. You state that working with 4 RNs is ridiculous, but you expected them to work with 3 while you are out on an extended leave? Of course they have to replace you! And FMLA only says they have to give you a job when you return, not the same job. Them's the breaks. Buck up. Maybe you'll like the new unit better.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

yes that is correct..they DO NOT have to hold your position for you. Their concern is to staff appopriately so the patient need can be met. They only have to provide you a job with like hours when you return with no guarantee of the same position. Since I work in an area with very few skilled RNs available I have never lost my position while out on leave. I would try and stay calm and if you are difficult to replace hopefully they can just borrow someome or use a float..that is what we do. They know you are coming back..right?

not meaning this as any kind of personal insult / attack, but my first reaction was that it was rather arrogant for you to assume that an already short staffed crew work work even shorter staffed for an unknown ammount of time while you were off.

There could be a dozen reasons why the co-worker was told not to say anything.... one of them might be to try to avoid causing you stress from thinking you've lost your job, or perhaps they were trying to keep ther "job opening" quiet to avoid others applying for it who had more seniority than the person they wanted to hire.... who knows really, and I've always looked at it as "who cares who says what.... the lady that signs my paychecks is the only voice worth hearing."

I am supposedly being "replaced" , not fired...as I think they may just transfer me to another unit...but this isn't legal, right?

Wrong. Perfectly legal.

my first impression of the "don't tell her" was that perhaps they don't want you to get all upset when you should be working on healing. second was that they may be offering somebody on the floor a temp position (until you return) because it's easier to get a traveler or something to staff that spot on a2. or they may have promised a new hire there a chance to apply for er after a year of med/surg, and this is their extended orientation/try-out, and she goes back after you return. or she stays too, because they can hire a new grad for med/surg to cover that hole.

while it is perfectly legal for them to transfer you to another floor (and any of your coworkers too, for that matter), i wouldn't get all twisted over this until you know for sure from the person who can make the decision. meanwhile, how about getting an estimated return to work date from your docs, and call your manager with the good news? the response to that should give you a clue.

"and fmla only says they have to give you a job when you return, not the same job."

this situation has nothing to do with the family medical leave act. you can look it up. although it is true that they don't have to hold the job unless there's something in a union contract that says so.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

hello, i was in a pretty bad car accident in mid may, sustained a back injury. i have been out on medical leave since then. all of my necessary documentation has been sent to h.r., and i have been updating them very often on my status, including contacting my manager and doing the same. a very good friend and colleague who works in my unit had been told by another nurse in our unit that since i am out on leave and they are short staffed, the manager has asked the nurses to write down names of other rn's in our hospital who may want to switch to our department to "replace" me. mind you, we are always short staffed...i work in an extremely busy er and we routinely have 4 rn's on at night, which is ludicrous and unsafe...but that's another story. so...my being out on leave may be inconvenient, however it is not the cause of the short-staffed-ness, thus, replacing me is not the solution, right? unless...the manager is ****** that i am out on leave which is a very real possibility...although it is wrong on so many levels.question...what do i do? i am not back to work per doctors orders...i am undergoing physical therapy and slowly getting back to myself. my friend was told by the other nurse not to say anything to me...(obviously), and i don't want to throw her under the bus. i am supposedly being "replaced" , not fired...as i think they may just transfer me to another unit...but this isn't legal, right? i am flabbergasted.thanks for the advice.

i'm sorry about your car accident and back injury. back injuries suck -- i had one myself six years ago.

however the tone of your post is a very good indication to me of why your friend was told not to say anything to you.

your work is always short, yet you seem to be expecting them to work even shorter while you're healing? really, it's not all about you. your absence, as unavoidable as it may be, is creating a problem for your manager who now has to fill that hole in her staffing. of course she wants to hire more staff. it may be convenient to think of it as "replacing" you, but really she's just doing her job by attempting to fill in her staffing.

as far as your manager being angry or upset that you're out on leave -- why would you think that? unless you have a deserved reputation for malingering? or unless you were engaging in unsafe behavior that caused the accident. the manager probably is upset/frustrated with having to deal with staffing issues, but she can hardly blame you for that. or can she?

if your unit is always short, there will still be a job there for you when you're healthy enough to return. but it is legal for them to transfer you to another unit. be grateful that you're not being fired. a former colleague of mine injured her rotator cuff at work and was out on fmla. she was fired when her fmla ran out and lost her benefits right about the time she was scheduled for corrective surgery. you still have your job.

BlueDevil,DNP, DNP, RN

Specializes in FNP, ONP. Has 25 years experience.

"and fmla only says they have to give you a job when you return, not the same job."

this situation has nothing to do with the family medical leave act. you can look it up. although it is true that they don't have to hold the job unless there's something in a union contract that says so.

oh, my mistake. i thought she said she took a medical leave, and i overlooked that this was a union situation. i have minimal experience with unions so i can't speak to that. sorry.

hope it works out.

VICEDRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 5 years experience.

Sorry but I wouldn't feed into co-worker drama. Just contact the unit manager to find out what's up and no, I don't care that someone else said not to say anything and you don't want to get them in trouble. This is not the 5th grade.

canned_bread

Specializes in Cath lab, acute, community. Has 11 years experience.

Perhaps they will keep both of you when you return to work?

Tish88

Specializes in Dialysis (acute & chronic).

Are you out on FMLA? If so read up on FMLA regulations.

U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - The Family and Medical Leave Act

This is from the website about returning to your job:

Job Restoration Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job, or to an "equivalent" job, which means virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions.

I was out on FMLA for the birth of my son and my employer tried to replace me and I found out about this. They tried to move me to a different position. So I contacted a government official, who supplied me with an attorney for free to handle this matter.

The attorney contacted my employer and asked them 1 question - "does her job still exist?" My employer answered "yes, but she was replaced and the attorney told them this is illegal to do under the FMLA." Within 1 hour my employer called me up to tell me that I was returning to my normal position upon my return to work.

Good Luck to you.

Thank you all for your insight. I suppose there are many more stressors attached to my job (as is with ALL of us, I am sure). The short-staffing goes on all over the world I imagine, I just felt that since I have been legitimally out with an injury, and have all the appropriate documentation, I was a little surprised that while the unit is so short...they would think of replacing me even though I am experienced in the ER and the newbies are not...from what I have heard anyways. I am being totally honest, I have no write-ups or issues with insubordination, lateness/absence, and I am a team-player all the way. I make my co-workers laugh and always help out even when we are drowning with 4 RN's in an ER with 17 in triage, and 25 beds full. No joke. I even bake almost nightly and bring in treats :)

I know I still have a job, and that my injury is hopefully, not permanent. I love what I do but I guess I felt insulted that I would be sent elsewhere even though I am needed down there! Of course I don't expect them to work short w/o me, but we work short all the time...with no floats...no help! YIKES. Anyways, thanks for the advice and I was not offended by any of you...I appreciate it :)

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