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Taking FMLA leave may rule out performance bonus

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Under the right circumstances, employers that pay discretionary bonuses based on actual performance don’t have to make the extra payments to employees on FMLA leave. Thus, a discretionary bonus based on performance during each quarter may not have to be paid if the employee didn’t work.

Recent case: Laura Makowski, who worked for a law firm’s marketing department, missed the last quarter of the year because she was pregnant and then gave birth. Ordinarily, she would have earned a quarterly bonus based on performance during that quarter.

She sued when she didn’t receive the bonus and argued she was eligible despite taking FMLA leave.

The court disagreed after dissecting the law firm’s bonus program. It determined that she performed no work meriting the bonus during the relevant quarter. (Makowski v. SmithAmundsen, No. 08-CV-6912, ND IL, 2010)

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