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 have a very overweight employee who wants to have a weight-reduction surgery. This will be expensive and she may be off work for up to six weeks. Do we have to grant her FMLA leave for that time?
Here’s a chance to learn from an employer’s FMLA mistakes. Don’t make the same ones yourself.

Most people think of 50 as the magic number for the FMLA. “Oh, we have 50 employees, so now we have to comply with the FMLA,” is a popular refrain among HR departments. It is not that simple. The FMLA has two different rules that must be met before you have to offer FMLA leave to an employee—coverage and eligibility, which both have the magic number 50 as a key component.

Even legitimate discipline against a lousy employee can spell FMLA trouble if somehow that discipline happens more quickly than it did for other employees with similar disciplinary problems. Advice: Take your time when disciplining workers who have taken FMLA leave. It’s better to be right than fast.

You may have read that employers aren’t permitted to force employees to take medical exams because they could reveal a disability. While pre-employment, pre-job-offer medical exams are barred, there are times when medical exams are fine. The key is whether the exams are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Many employers don’t like to provide specific reasons for firing someone. Instead, they simply tell the employee that he is being terminated from his at-will employment. Don’t take that as an excuse not to document the reason you are terminating the employee.

These days, much of the evidence used in employment litigation is electronic—such as attendance records. Courts require employers to preserve such evidence when employers reasonably know that a lawsuit could arise. If evidence is destroyed, courts can impose heavy financial sanctions and even hand a win to the other side without a trial.

If an employee gets a certification showing he has a serious health condition under the FMLA, you can request a second, independent assessment. But if the second opinion says the condition isn’t serious, that’s not the final word. FMLA regulations require a third opinion as the tie-breaker.

Q. Several of our employees are in the Army Reserve or are on long-term leave due to military deployment. What rules apply?
Q. One of our employees is adopting a 5-year-old Ethiopian child and has asked for leave to travel to complete the adoption and bond with the child when they return to Minnesota. Does this count as FMLA leave, since it is not leave within the first year of the child’s life? If it does, is the travel time eligible for FMLA leave?
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