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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. When an employee returns from maternity leave, do we have to give her the very same job she had or can she be put to work in a different type of position?

Generally, employees claiming they suffered retaliation after engaging in protected activity—such as complaining about discrimination or taking protected FMLA leave—must show that the retaliation would have dissuaded a reasonable employee from complaining or taking leave. The hypothetical reasonable employee standard isn’t very specific.

Make sure someone other than the supervisor who ordinarily disciplines an employee is responsible for approving and administering FMLA leave. By separating those functions, you minimize the risk that an employee might be able to connect FMLA leave with an adverse action such as termination.

Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to be left alone. Super­visors shouldn’t send work home with the employee or call constantly to check up. That could be considered FMLA leave interference. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get in touch with the em­­ployee about important and urgent matters or enforce your broader call-in policies.

The FMLA is difficult to administer, especially now that it has been amended to include additional time off in connection with military service. Plus, new FMLA regulations make more workers eligible for leave if they care for a child. Rest assured that if you promptly fix an innocent mistake when it’s brought to your attention, you won’t be automatically liable for FMLA interference.

Some employees abuse their rights under the FMLA and try to take time off to which they aren’t entitled. Take, for example, an employee who takes an unscheduled trip to his doctor’s office and claims that time as FMLA leave. It isn’t.
If you suspect intermittent FMLA leave abuse, take action. You can check up on the employee or ask her what she is doing on the days she designates as intermittent leave. If she’s not using the time as required, you can discipline her.

Make sure your supervisors know they must consider post-surgery ADA accommodations and should forward such requests to HR. Under no circumstances should an employee be summarily fired just be­­cause she’s used up her FMLA leave and still needs help during recovery.

When employees need intermittent FMLA leave, they are entitled to take time off free from work responsibilities. Of course, that may leave some tasks undone. Some employees, especially those in management positions, may feel obliged to work additional hours, or may sometimes forgo taking leave. As long as there’s no employer pressure to get the work done, that extra work won’t support an FMLA-interference lawsuit.

Q. An employee has requested FMLA leave to care for her 5-year-old niece who is recovering from heart surgery. The employee’s sister and her daughter live with the employee. Is leave under these circumstances protected under the FMLA?

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