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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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Surprise! If you reasonably believe an employee who’s out on FMLA leave broke a workplace rule, you can fire him—even if it turns out you were wrong.
Employees who take FMLA leave can’t be disciplined for work that goes undone while they are out. To avoid confusion, always adjust schedules or find backup to meet inflexible deadlines while the employee who is usually responsible for the work is away.
Some employees and their treating doctors seem to believe that as long as a medical professional says an employee can’t work, that’s enough to justify FMLA leave. That’s not true.

The FMLA allows employers that don’t want to accept an employee’s medical certification to ask for (and pay for) a second opinion. If the two opinions contradict one another, the employer may pay for a third, tie-breaking assessment. But that can be expensive. If you prefer to simply deny the employee’s leave request, that’s fine.

Q. Do we have to take a nurse’s signature on an FMLA certification? I’d like to have an actual doctor sign the forms so I am sure someone actually saw the employee.

There are some words that should never come from a supervisor’s mouth—including any statement that would seem to encourage an employee to drop an EEOC complaint. That just about guarantees that a retaliation or interference lawsuit will go to trial should anything adverse (like a discharge or demotion) happen to the employee to whom the supervisor was speaking.

Employees who are so sick they need FMLA leave certainly can’t perform essential job functions while on leave. Employers must alter their workload expectations accordingly. If they don’t, and then later punish the employee for poor performance, an FMLA interference lawsuit is almost sure to follow.

Good news on the FMLA front: A court has ruled that employees have to do more than merely mention that a family member is sick to trigger an employer’s FMLA obligations.
Employees with serious medical conditions that require occasional time off are entitled to intermittent FMLA leave. If you grant leave and the employee makes a new request that wasn’t specified in the original medical certification, you can insist on a new certification.
The FMLA allows double damages for willful violations. Recently, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the extra damages can be levied against an employer that essentially rubber-stamps a supervisor’s wrongful termination decision.
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