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Keep solid records to show FMLA eligibility

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employees who have worked for their organizations for more than one year total and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding their need for FMLA leave are eligible for unpaid FMLA leave for their own serious health condition or that of a relative. If employees haven’t reached 1,250 hours, they’re not eligible.

That’s why it’s important to track every hour and be ready to show either that the employee is eligible or that she has not worked enough hours to take unpaid leave.

For all practical purposes, that means you will need to track hours worked by exempt employees, too—even if they aren’t required to punch a time clock.

Recent case:
Sharon Gray worked as a school custodian for the Vestavia Hills Board of Education. After 28 years on the job, she filed a comprehensive claim for race and other forms of discrimination. She alleged unfair treatment, lack of promotions and various other claims. Because she had waited a long time on most of her claims, the court dismissed them for being filed too late.

Her last claim was that she had been denied FMLA leave for foot surgery. She claimed there was no evidence she had worked fewer than 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding her requested leave. But the district had records showing she had worked just 1,235 hours, and was therefore 15 hours short and not eligible for protected leave. Her case was dismissed. (Gray v. Vestavia Hills Board of Education, No. 08-11607, 11th Cir., 2008)

Advice:
Every hour counts when it comes to FMLA eligibility. Always check before you approve a request for leave.

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