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Train supervisors to refer potential FMLA leave requests to HR

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Employees who need FMLA leave don’t have to specifically say so. They just have to give enough information to let their employers know they may have a serious health condition.

That’s why you need to train supervisors to let HR handle all leave requests involving health problems of any sort. After all, you’re in the best position to decide whether the health problem is a serious health condition under the FMLA—and know how to request appropriate medical certifications.

Recent case: Anthony Modaffare was fired for missing too much work. When he sued for alleged FMLA violations, he explained to the court that his supervisor had rejected his request for time off to see a psychiatrist. Modaffare said he told the supervisor he was anxious and couldn’t sleep because he was getting divorced.

The court said the case could go forward because Modaffare had given his supervisor enough information to trigger the company’s FMLA obligations. The company should have told Modaffare how to apply for FMLA leave, but did not. (Modaffare v. Owens-Brockway Glass Containers, No. 08-CV-2855, ED PA, 2009)

Final note: Be sure to cover the FMLA in your supervisor training programs. They must understand that it’s up to HR to approve or disapprove all leave requests that may involve a serious health condition. Supervisors should always err on the side of caution. The HR office can check eligibility (hours and years worked, etc.) and make the final decision.

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