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Q. Some of our employees routinely ask to use FMLA when they are five, 10 or 15 minutes late. It creates a scheduling nightmare and hurts morale. Does FMLA cover employees who are consistently tardy for work? —M.P., Florida

A. Sounds like it's time to pull in the reins. Although FMLA leave may be used intermittently, there are steps you can take to prevent employee abuse.

First, designate that intermittent FMLA leave be taken in no less than the shortest period of time recognized by your payroll system.

Second, require medical certification that says intermittent leave is needed. If a tardy employee doesn't provide a completed medical certification form in a timely way, deny leave and hand out progressive discipline as described in your company's attendance policy. If you don't have an attendance policy, it's time to get one!

Third, if the medical certification indicates that intermittent leave is needed, you can temporarily transfer the employee to an equivalent alternate position to better accommodate your scheduling needs.

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