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 an employee who wants to take a chunk of paid time off. She is eligible for FMLA leave. We want to start deducting the time off from her 12-week entitlement. Usually we require employees to provide a medical certification. But in this case, we are more interested in making sure she doesn’t take unpaid FMLA leave later after her paid leave bank is exhausted. Can we just do this?

Do you have employees who take intermittent FMLA leave to deal with their own health conditions? If so, you might worry that they sometimes abuse that leave by calling in when their condition supposedly flares up, only to go to work at a second job. Here’s how to handle that situation:

When employers get sloppy and don’t document their decision-making proc­­esses, things can get dicey. Consider what happens when an employee experiences work stress and starts taking FMLA and other leave. In one recent case, the employer was smart enough to carefully track its efforts to both accommodate an employee and get her back to work.
A federal court hearing an FMLA interference case has sidestepped deciding whether it is legal for an employer to place an employee on involuntary FMLA leave.
The FMLA says that employers can run out the FMLA clock by counting paid time off against the 12-week entitlement. Smart employers make sure that employees understand that’s how it works. That way, employees won’t run out of leave and lose their jobs because they didn’t realize the clock was ticking.

When it comes to reductions in force, employees on FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than those who haven’t taken FMLA leave. That means if an employer can show it would have chosen the FMLA leave-taker for termination even if she had been at work, there’s no FMLA violation. But employers that are sloppy about the RIF process may end up in court.

If you immediately fire employees who have used up their FMLA leave—without considering whether they may be disabled and need reasonable ADA accommodations—you may be making a big mistake. Instead, let the employee know you want to begin the interactive accommodations process right before FMLA leave runs out.

Generally, employers shouldn’t ask employees on FMLA leave to perform any work or deal with work-related problems. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times you may need to speak with the employee.
It’s all in the timing: An employee may have a case if her request for FMLA leave is suddenly followed by a reorganization that results in the loss of her job.
When faced with a reduction in force, employees who are out on FMLA leave don’t enjoy greater protection than other employees. For example, being on maternity leave does not exclude an employee from being considered for the RIF. That would give those on FMLA leave rights above and beyond those of other employees.
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