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Can a New Mom Demand Part-Time Schedule?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We had a full-time employee take FMLA leave to have her baby. After her 12 weeks off, she demanded a part-time schedule. We need the position to be filled full time. The shift we want her to work is the one she was working before she took FMLA leave. Do we have to let her work the schedule she wants? — E.L., Connecticut

A. When an employee returns from FMLA leave (unless the person is a “key” employee as defined by the statute), you are obligated to offer him or her an equivalent position. An equivalent position is one that is virtually identical to the employee’s former position in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions. It must involve the same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities. However, you’re not obligated under the FMLA to create a new position that involves different hours.

Assuming that your employee didn’t suffer a disability while on leave and that your company doesn’t have a past practice of creating part-time positions for similarly situated employees, you don’t have to create a part-time job for her. 

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