Can I ask why an employee was absent?

Am I allowed to ask for some sort of reasonable excuse for an employee taking off of work, not coming in to work or would that be breaching some privacy issues?

Posted  09-16-2010

Ann Kiernan replies:

Not only are you allowed to ask, it is important that you do so. For one thing, you want to make sure you are properly charging the employee’s sick time, vacation time, or personal leave under your organization’s policies. In addition, if the time off is for the employee’s own illness or that of a family member, it should be properly recorded as FMLA or other protected leave.


Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.