Q. What can an employer do to make sure employees are not abusing intermittent FMLA leave?
A. There are many things an employer can do. First, ensure that HR and other staff members tasked with administering theare properly trained on the law.
Second, be direct in communicating all expectations to employees when they start using. Explain that they need to provide you with reasonable notice and make reasonable efforts to schedule intermittent leave during off-duty time. Explain your expectation that they will comply with recertification requirements (if you determine such recertification is needed).
Also make clear that they are expected to continue to adhere to performance and standards, as well as general employment policies and procedures.
Third, document each employee’s request for intermittent leave, including the amount of notice, actual time taken and reason for such leave. This will be helpful in verifying the employee’s absences with his or her doctor during the recertification phase and can be the basis for discipline if you later determine the employee has abused leave.
Intermittent leave must be medically necessary. Don’t just take an employee’s word for it. Don’t assume that every doctor’s appointment will automatically be medically necessary.
Always seek information from an employee to determine whether the leave qualifies as. Make sure that the medical certification required at the start of the employee’s request for intermittent leave contains detailed information. These practices may help discourage employees from abusing intermittent leave.