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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Here’s something to consider if a discharged disabled employee who simply could not do her job sues, alleging disability discrimination. Check to see if she has applied for disability benefits and get a copy of the application. If she didn’t qualify her disability by claiming she could perhaps do some work if reasonably accommodated, she may have killed her chances to argue she was qualified for her old position, too.
Q: “Can we refuse a request for FMLA intermittent leave for a serious health condition when the physician has checked the box indicating that there is no part of that employee’s job that the employee is not able to perform? We included a copy of the job description with the FMLA paperwork we provided.” – Kary, Maryland
Sometimes a pregnant employee develops problems that amount to a temporary disability. Then she may need accommodations. But if those accommodations don’t allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, you can place the employee on FMLA leave. If she can’t return to work when her FMLA entitlement is up, you may terminate the employee without violating the FMLA.
Employees fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. But what is willful misconduct? The term is broad and can include all kinds of behavior, such as refusing to cooperate with an employer’s reasonable request for information.
Employees who take FMLA leave are generally entitled to come back to their old jobs when they return. If you make any changes to their jobs, be sure you can document solid business reasons that are unrelated to FMLA leave.
Warn supervisors that they shouldn’t comment on the time that employees take off for medical treatments. If the underlying medical condition is a disability under the ADA, such comments may come back later to haunt the employer.
There are ways to discourage FMLA leave abuse. One is to make taking leave just a little inconvenient by requiring more than a simple call-in. You can, for example, require the employee to notify both his supervisor and someone in the HR or benefits office. That’s perfectly fine as long as everyone on intermittent leave has to do the same.
Employees are supposed to notify their employers about their need for FMLA leave as soon as is practical. When they are already out on leave with a set return date, the same rule applies if the employee will need more time off. He or she can’t just extend the leave without telling anyone and expect to keep the job.
Employees are supposed to let employers know when they may need FMLA leave, although they don’t have to specifically mention the law. However, simply calling in to report being “sick” isn’t good enough. Not every illness is covered and run-of-the-mill sickness isn’t a “serious health condition.”
If you have a large enough HR office, it makes good sense to keep the FMLA request and approval process separate from the disciplinary process. Doing so ensures that someone with expertise in FMLA administration handles the entire process. But there is an additional benefit.