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FMLA Guidelines

We’ll assist you in tracking and managing intermittent FMLA leave … fighting FMLA fraud and FMLA abuse … and managing FMLA in general.

Beyond mastering FMLA regulations on intermittent leave, we’ll share FMLA guidelines on how to curb FMLA abuse, and dramatically improve your overall FMLA compliance.

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Q. One of our employees recently went on military caregiver leave to take care of her injured husband. She is also expected to give birth in the coming weeks. Is she entitled to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA in addition to her 26 weeks of caregiver leave?

Attorney Alison West thinks every HR pro should keep a pen and paper with them at all times. “It will help you get into the habit of documenting,” she said at the SHRM Conference in New Orleans. West believes documentation is crucial to keeping a workplace running right—ensuring fairness, promoting good performance and, most important, winning in court if an employee sues you.

Q. We have a pregnant employee who is planning to take maternity leave soon. Her performance has deteriorated badly during her pregnancy, but we don’t think her pregnancy has anything to do with it. Can we terminate?

Q. If an employee constantly calls in sick because of migraine headaches, how can we verify the real reasons for the absences? Can we ask for information each time the employee is absent?

Members of the military have greater on-the-job protection than many other employees—including the right to return to their former jobs following a period of active-duty service. They also have the right not to be terminated or otherwise punished for being part of the armed services and taking military leave.

Legislation recently introduced in Congress would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave per employee per year. The so-called “Healthy Families Act” would guarantee workers at least one paid hour off for every 30 hours worked.

If discrimination has always been a head-in-the-sand issue for you and your organization, it’s time to get serious about your policies and practices. Discrimination complaints of all types—race, sex, age, etc.—have climbed as steeply in the past year as the economy has fallen. Don’t get caught flat-footed.

Q. We employ the unwed parents of a newborn child. They have requested FMLA leave to care for their child after birth. Both parents are eligible for leave, but we would like to limit their leave to a combined total of 12 weeks during the 12-month leave period. Can two parents of the same newborn be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA?

If your organization uses progressive discipline to enforce your attendance policy, caution supervisors against making exceptions for some employees unless it’s clear the absence shouldn’t have been counted against them (for example, the absence was an FMLA-related reason or part of an approved ADA accommodation).

If you provide more than 12 weeks of disability leave, make sure that your employee handbook and policies spell out that employees may lose the right to return to their previous positions if they exceed the 12 weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed by the FMLA.

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