Why is workers’ comp telling us when our employee’s FMLA leave should start?

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. An employee took FMLA leave Sept. 1 because of job stress. In October, she had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers’ comp ruled that her absence was work-related and it dated her workers’ comp claim back to Sept. 3. So, they’re now saying that her FMLA leave won’t start until she is officially released from workers’ comp. Do we need to keep a job open indefinitely for her?

A. It’s not clear why the state would be taking a position on when the employee’s FMLA leave begins. Ordinarily, FMLA leave that is based on the same condition for which an employee is receiving workers’ comp will run concurrently with the workers’ comp leave. The leave should run from Sept. 1 for up to the 12-week maximum.

If the employee takes the full 12 weeks of FMLA and still is not able to return to work, you should consider whether she has a disability protected by the ADA. If so, you should engage in the interactive process with her to determine whether she needs a reasonable accommodation, such as extended leave.

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