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Treat FMLA policy changes with care, communication

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

Issue: Mistakes made during FMLA policy changes could spark a lawsuit.

Risk: FMLA allows for HR directors to be sued personally.

Action: Enact FMLA policy changes by reprinting your policy manual, not by handing out addenda.

When establishing or changing your Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy, make sure you include it in your employee handbook.

Don't rely on references to the policy outside the book, and don't attach or staple the policy separately.

Get all the guidance you need in one handy reference source — FMLA Compliance Guide: Practical Advice on Managing Family and Medical Leave

Case in Point: When a company decided to change how it calculated FMLA leave, it gave each employee a copy of the new policy. But it didn't include the change in its employee handbook. A problem arose when an employee took additional FMLA leave after she had already used up her 12 weeks' leave calculated by the "rolling" method. When she didn't return to work, she was fired.

She sued under FMLA and won. Reason: The court said the employer failed to communicate the new policy properly because it didn't print the policy in its employee handbook. (Dodaro v. Glendale Heights, No. 01C6396, N.D. Ill.)

Tip: If you decide to change your method, give employees 60 days' notice.

The FMLA Compliance Guide will help you discover the seven issues you must cover – in writing – with an employee requesting FMLA leave, whether you can legally fire someone who is on FMLA leave, and an amazingly simple strategy that prevents employees from taking 24 weeks of back-to-back leave. The FMLA Compliance Guide is guaranteed to give you concrete answers to your most perplexing FMLA questions. Get your copy here...

Clarify what's an FMLA 'year'

Be clear in your FMLA policy how you count a "measuring year." Employees can take 12 weeks of FMLA leave during each 12-month period. But the law lets you choose among four methods for calculating the applicable 12-month period. Those four options:

  1. The calendar year.
  2. Any fixed, 12-month "leave year," such as your fiscal year, a year required by state law or a year that starts on the employee's anniversary date.
  3. The 12-month period measured forward from the date a worker's first FMLA leave begins.
  4. A "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave.

What's best? Employers prefer the rolling 12-month period, because it's the only method that prevents back-to-back 12-week leaves. The most favorable option for employees is the calendar-year method.

If you fail to designate a measuring-year method properly, you must give employees the most generous option.

Here are just some of the things you’ll learn in the FMLA Compliance Guide:
  • An amazingly simple strategy that prevents employees from taking 24 weeks of back-to-back leave
  • How to kick-start the 12-week FMLA meter
  • The one situation where you can legally deny reinstatement after FMLA leave
  • 4 tests to determine if several closely held companies will trigger compliance with the 50-employee minimum
  • When you can expect to receive money back from an employee on FMLA leave
  • A simple formula for determining if a part-time employee is eligible under the law
  • 7 issues you must cover – in writing – with an employee requesting leave
  • The 3 most important steps you can take to make sure your company is in compliance with the FMLA
  • Whether or not you can legally fire someone who’s away on FMLA leave
  • How to prove you acted in “good faith” and avoid paying a lot in liquidated damages

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