Can we require scheduling FMLA-covered medical appointments to suit our needs?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. One of our employees is taking intermittent FMLA leave for planned medical treatment. However, the employee’s appointments occur during work hours, and that has started to have a serious adverse impact on our customer service function. Can we require the employee to schedule medical visits better to address these problems?

The new final FMLA rules have revised the employee’s obligation for scheduling leave for planned medical treatment. Formerly, employees had to make a “reasonable attempt” to schedule appointments so they did not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Now they must make a “reasonable effort.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has stated that once an employer can establish that its operations are being unduly disrupted by the employee’s scheduling practices, the employee “must try to arrange treatment on a schedule that accommodates the employer’s needs.” Even so, the DOL recognizes that it may not always be possible for an employee to meet that requirement.

An employer, nevertheless, still can require the employee to make serious and reasonable scheduling efforts.

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