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Living with Migraine

Doctor's Note for Work Accommodations

  • By Kitty

    Has anyone ever had to approach their neurologist for a note to provide to work management / HR regarding your condition? Is this a normal request to make of a neurologist and are they okay writing such a statement?

    My scenario is I have been at this new job for 5 months now, working in office. Before this, I was working from home full-time. When I was offered the job, I told my boss about my condition and that it typically doesn’t affect my work. Me taking sick days is comparable to someone with a cold.
    (To be fair to myself, that is because I push myself very hard to do what I need to do — even with an average 15 migraine days a month.)

    The setup here is that it’s acceptable to work from home as needed, typically when you don’t have any meetings and you have a good reason such as kids, appointments, under the weather, etc. In the last 5 months, I’ve taken 2.5 sick days, and worked from home ~14 times for migraine, plus 2 sick days and ~10 work from home days for an unrelated surgery. I feel my situation for working from home is different from the norm since it’s a chronic illness and it occurs very often. I would probably work from home a lot more if I could actually.

    I’m worried that the above will make me look bad in the long run. Perhaps if my neurologist would write a letter explaining my condition and what I need during that time (dark, quiet, no odors, ice pack/heat pad, meds) then when I do need to work from home, it’s more acceptable.

    My boss is in complete support of me (thankfully!) and no one has asked me for this kind of letter. I just feel like I need to cover myself for the long term. Because of a recent surgery, I’m now in the negative sick days and I know I’m not covered by FMLA. If I need to take more time off of work for migraine, I may end up being forced onto short term disability.

    Anyway, I’d appreciate anyone sharing similar situations they have been in and what is the best way to approach my neurologist for this.

    Thank you!

  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Kitty,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m happy to hear your employer is understanding about your migraines and you are able to maintain a flexible schedule.

    Seeing as your employer has not requested a letter from your neurologist it may not be necessary, but I can understand you wanting to have your bases covered. If it were me, I would have an open, honest conversation with my doctor and ask his opinion on this matter.

    Maybe others will be along shortly and share their experiences with you.


  • By ninjaqutie

    My work has requested a letter from me and I use 1-2 days a month with no option to work from home. My neuro offers letters, but you have to pay for them.

  • By Chrissy

    I’ve been at my job for 8 years (migraines for 26 years). I have FMLA paperwork filled out by my neurologist every year. Even if you haven’t been there a year yet, you can ask the doc to fill it out so you have paperwork backing up your absences. Having a paper trail gives you a safety net in case your current boss ever left and a new one isn’t so understanding. In my case my direct boss is great. The person in payroll isn’t quite as compassionate.

  • By kimberlyflick

    My company recently changed hands. The new owner is not being accommodating and has threatened me with “doing something down the road” since I’ve had to miss work. On top of migraines, I threw out my back which left me with a full week of work off. The owner only has about 30 total employees so he doesn’t qualify for FMLA, according to the way I read the law. I’m very worried about my job which is causing me more stress of course.

  • By JanetH

    I’m not an HR specialist, but I’ve served as a union steward at my workplace for several years. My first advice to everybody is to download your company’s employee policy, and make sure you have it where you can always access it, both at work and home. Secondly, the tried and true discreetly asking around as to what past practice has been, if you can. At my workplace, some departments and people in HR are more helpful than others. If your workplace is organized, make sure your union or employee/professional organization is on board, because you may need their representation. Finally, you may want to consult an attorney whose specialty is employee law in your state. It won’t be cheap ($250-$300/hour), but that could be peanuts compared to losing your wages down the road.