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Intermittent FMLA leave may cause inconvenience

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee on intermittent FMLA leave who periodically faints at work, is carried away in an ambulance, is off for a few days and then returns. Her position is critical. Do we have to continue with these absences? —R.R., Massachusetts

A. Employees with a “serious health condition” are entitled to intermittent leaves of absence under the FMLA. Your first step: Request that the employee give you a medical certification form completed by her doctor. If you disagree with the conclusions, you are entitled to a second evaluation, and if the two don't agree, to a third. Assuming you've already done so and her health care providers recommend intermittent leave, you're obligated to provide the time off.

If the employee is a “key” employee (a salaried employee who is paid among the highest 10 percent of employees) you can deny reinstatement if you can show her absences cause “substantial and grievous economic injury.” But the time to do so is before the leave starts, so you may have missed your opportunity. Employers should consult with an attorney before relying on the key-employee exception.

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