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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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Smart employers make sure that no employee is ever punished for taking FMLA leave. They do that by carefully cataloging when every employee takes FMLA leave. And if they must discipline an employee for attendance problems, they spell out the reason why each absence counted toward punishment.

Some employees assume that they will always get their jobs back after taking FMLA leave. Usually that’s true, but not always. Take, for example, a case in which an employer needs to lay off workers. An employee’s FMLA status doesn’t necessarily protect her job in such a situation.

The FMLA gives eligible em­­ployees an absolute right to take leave and prohibits employers from discouraging employees from taking that leave. Anything that dissuades employees from using FMLA leave is grounds for litigation.
Employers are generally free to set their own rules for when and to whom employees must call to report that they will unexpectedly have to miss work. But thanks to a recent 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision, that’s now far less certain.

Some employers mistakenly believe that women who want to use FMLA leave when they become pregnant can’t demand intermittent leave. Managers may be confusing FMLA provisions that apply to the time leading up to the birth of a child with those that apply to the time after the child is born (or adopted).

Sometimes HR professionals go to bat for employees when they think the company may be overstepping legal boundaries or generally not doing “the right thing.” But those activities aren’t necessarily protected, meaning HR pros can’t claim retaliation if they are punished afterward.

When you grant an employee FMLA leave to care for a sick relative, do you wonder what type of “care” they must really be giving to qualify for time off under the FMLA? A new court ruling defines care as being in physical proximity to the relative. Cutting a lawn in a different time zone doesn’t cut it …

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill son or daughter. That’s true for young children, of course, but also for those older than 18 who are “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” Don’t split hairs on this.

Disabled employees or those who need FMLA leave aren’t immune from following work rules. But think carefully before you punish them. It is possible to terminate an employee who has announced he needs time off or an accommodation. How­ever, you must have a legitimate rea­son—and you must be able to demonstrate that the company acted in good faith.

It’s often quite obvious when an em­­ployee is having personal problems that she needs to resolve. But employers have to treat such an employee carefully to avoid a possible ADA regarded-as-disabled lawsuit. The key is patience and focusing on workplace performance issues rather than any suspected disability.

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