FMLA Guidelines — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 110
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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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Employees sometimes think taking FMLA leave—or even just asking for the time off—protects them from being disciplined or discharged. Not so. Employers are free to discipline or discharge employees if they can show they would have taken the same action even if the employee never asked for or received FMLA leave.

Employees who take their full 12 weeks of FMLA leave and can’t return to work lose their FMLA job protection. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still protected by the ADA. In fact, if an employee who can’t yet return to work asks for a reasonable accommodation—such as additional time off or a reduced schedule until she is ready for full-time work—you should consider the request.

You shouldn’t have to worry about losing a retaliation lawsuit if you consistently follow your internal rules for seeking medical information from employees who ask for sick leave. That’s true even if the employee has already complained about discrimination, either internally or to the EEOC.

Q. We have an employee out on a medical leave who is collecting short-term disability benefits. We have also designated the leave as FMLA leave. Our FMLA policy allows us to require the employee to use accumulated paid leave benefits concurrently with FMLA leave. Can we reduce this employee’s paid leave bank for the FMLA time he is taking?

Employers that end up violating the FMLA—unintentionally or not—don’t face an additional problem under North Carolina law. The supposed problem: At-will employees in North Carolina can sue their employers if they’re terminated and the discharge violates public policy. But failing to follow the intricacies of federal laws and regulations doesn’t violate public policy.

Have you audited the employee bulletin board in your break room or next to your time clock recently? Have you ever done so? A little time spent seeing what’s there—and what’s missing—will keep you in compliance with North Carolina and federal laws.

Q. Are we obligated to provide paid leave so one of our employees can attend a mandatory school meeting concerning his child?

Employers sometimes have the mistaken belief that employees with serious health conditions who have used up all their FMLA leave can be terminated if they can’t return to work. That’s simply wrong. In fact, those employees may be entitled to reasonable accommodations—including additional time off—under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.

Some good news: A federal court has ruled that an employer that mistakenly tells an employee he is covered by the FMLA isn’t bound by that mistake.

If you use mandatory arbitration agreements, take the extra time to make sure courts will enforce them. In New York, that means showing that the applicant or employee knew that getting and keeping her job required agreeing to arbitration of all employment disputes.

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