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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If your employee handbook hasn’t been updated in the past six months, it’s out of date. Because employment laws and your business are in a constant state of flux, it’s critical to keep your personnel policies up-to-date. In light of recent legal changes, be sure your policies include these updates:

If you’re looking for incentives to get managers and supervisors to pay attention during FMLA training sessions, look no further. Simply point out that they can be held personally liable if they deny FMLA benefits to which an employee is entitled ...

What do you expect an employee to do at the end of approved FMLA leave? Clarify that it’s the employee’s responsibility to notify the employer and check his schedule when he receives medical clearance. Then, if the employee ignores your instructions and doesn’t show up, it’s willful misconduct—making him ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Employees who need FMLA leave must notify their employers either 30 days before, if the need is foreseeable, or as soon as “practicable” if the need is unforeseeable. Thus, elective surgery requires 30 days’ notice, while emergency surgery does not. Lots of employers, however, have far less formal rules in place. Some allow a simple doctor’s note to stand in as a request for FMLA leave.

Q. We have an employee who has been on workers’ comp for nine months. He’s not planning to have his fractured ankle operated on. HR wants to terminate him on the grounds that (after the operation) he will have been on FMLA for over a year. We realize the employee would still be carried by our insurer. Can we legally terminate an employee on workers’ comp after a year’s medical leave? — Vincent, Louisiana

Employees out on FMLA leave are supposed to be freed of their regular work responsibilities. They are on leave, after all. Some supervisors have taken this to mean that they may never call an employee who is out on FMLA leave to discuss work-related matters. That’s not entirely true.

There’s no doubt that a key em­­ployee’s sudden and unexpected extended absence can disrupt business. Even so, remind supervisors to keep their gripes to themselves if it turns out that the employee is exercising her FMLA rights.
Employees who take protected FMLA leave are entitled to reinstatement to the same or a substantially similar job once cleared for work after their leave is over. Reducing the employee’s hours on return could be seen as interference with FMLA rights.

If, after FMLA leave, an employee asks for more time off or to work from home, handle the request just like you would another disabled employee’s reasonable accommodation request. Verify the disability and discuss possible accommodations before you reject the request. Otherwise, a jury may hold you liable.

Unexpected absences can cause scheduling headaches. However, since FMLA leave is an entitlement, there isn’t much employers can do—at least when the call-offs are legitimate. But not every absence is legit.
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