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. We're a church with six full-time employees, three part-timers and six musicians who are paid per performance. Are we subject to FMLA? And who counts as an “employee” under the law: full-time, part-time and on-call workers, such as our musicians? —E.E., North Carolina

Q. We’re a small business with eight employees. One employee frequently takes off for six to eight weeks with medical problems. She’s done this each year for the past three years. It’s a huge burden because very few people have her training, so we can’t hire a temp. How long do we have to allow her to disappear for months at a time? —M.S., Ohio

If your organization's supervisors tend to ignore all that "HR talk" about FMLA leave, here's one way to get their attention: Point out that, in addition to suing your organization, employees can sue their bosses (and HR directors!) personally for FMLA-related mistakes ...

Q. One of our employees had been out sick for two months. We’ve received a doctor’s note that just says he’s unable to work and that a return date is undetermined. We faxed and mailed FMLA paperwork, but it hasn’t been returned. Meanwhile, the employee is receiving disability benefits through our short-term disability plan. How do we calculate the start of FMLA leave? From the date the disability payment began? And if we never get the FMLA paperwork back, can we terminate him? —T.B., Tennessee

The FMLA’s notice provision requires employees, to be eligible for FMLA leave, to let their employers know that they suffer from a serious health condition. Merely telling a supervisor “I’m sick” doesn’t cross to the threshold of a legitimate FMLA notice. But it's important for supervisors to know that employees, on the other hand, don’t need to say something as explicit as “I need FMLA leave because I have X illness” ...

It’s crucial to keep meticulous FMLA records, from requests to approvals to return-to-work discussions. If you fail to create a solid paper trail, courts will resolve any questions in the employee’s favor ...

Q. We recently learned that an employee on FMLA leave is working for another company. Can we fire her? —D.G., Arizona

Q. One of our full-time employees, age 60, is ill and expected to be out six months. We'd like to make her position part time, because we need to hire an additional part-timer in another department. Essentially, we'd like to split her full-time job into two part-time positions. Is this legal? —D.H., Texas

Many employers offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) to help employees with personal problems. But be aware that if you communicate directly with counselors who take employees' calls, you may trigger legal liabilities under both the ADA and the FMLA. That's especially true if an EAP counselor suggests that the employee needs time off or some other accommodation ...

Q. I told an employee who takes lots of intermittent FMLA leave that all of her time out of the office (no matter what it was for) would count against her FMLA time. My VP called me in and told me I was wrong and that was absolutely NOT the law. What is the best way to track her intermittent leave? Do I ask for documentation each time? —J.S., Texas  

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