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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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.

Some employers believe that pregnant women aren’t entitled to time off for pregnancy-related matters because pregnant women aren’t disabled or unable to perform their jobs. That’s wrong and can land employers in big trouble. The fact is that prenatal visits and even bouts of nausea are the sorts of things that Congress considered when covering pregnancy under the FMLA.

When it comes to deciding whether to grant reasonable accommodations, the first step is to determine whether the employee is really disabled. A diagnosis isn’t the last word. Does the condition actually limit the employee in some substantial way?

Sometimes employees will suddenly request FMLA leave when they know they face termination because they’re not meeting their performance goals. They think no one can be fired while on FMLA leave. Wrong! You can fire such a worker—as long as you first make performance goal adjustments that take their FMLA leave into account.

Employees occasionally have to step in on short notice to help care for a family member and may legitimately need FMLA leave to handle those responsibilities. Go ahead and suggest FMLA time off. However, until the employee takes you up on the offer, you can hold her to your regular attendance policy.

Employees out on unpaid FMLA leave are still entitled to health insurance benefits if they were covered before going out on leave. However, if the employee was required to pay part of the premium before taking leave, that obligation continues.

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?
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