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How much FMLA left? It’s your job to track it

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during each 12-month period. But lawsuits often hinge on one question: Which 12 months?

The law lets you choose one of four methods to calculate that 12-month period. Because those calculations can get complicated, it’s the employer’s duty to let employees know how much leave they’re entitled to or have al­­ready taken.

Advice: Never ignore an employee’s request for a tally. Courts expect you to keep track … and to give correct answers when asked.

Recent case: The Great Lakes Cheese Company used the “rolling-­calendar” method to determine FMLA eligibility for its staff. Employee Annette Gardner often took intermittent FMLA leave. She regularly asked for updates on her FMLA balance and got them. Then her husband had surgery. She again asked how much FMLA time she had left, but received no response this time. Soon after, she was fired for excessive absenteeism.

Gardner sued, saying she should have been notified because she would have made other arrangements if she knew she was almost out of FMLA leave. The court agreed and sent the case to a jury. (Gardner v. Great Lakes Cheese, No. 1:10-CV-183, ND OH, 2011)

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