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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Back in August, we told you how a federal court had dismissed a case involving a woman who had taken her child out of day care for the summer and asked for FMLA leave so she could care for him until school started. (See “School’s out for summer! But the FMLA doesn’t cover day care”.) Now the same court has reinstated the lawsuit after taking another look at the facts.

If you’re deciding whether to fire an employee for attendance problems (under a no-fault attendance policy, for example), you must make sure you aren’t counting FMLA leave against her. However, all is not lost if you accidentally add in an FMLA absence—as long as you can show you still would have fired the employee because of other attendance problems.

Employees have to work at least 1,250 hours in a year to qualify for FMLA leave. They also must have been employed for a total of one year. Thus, while many part-time employees may qualify for FMLA leave, others won’t because they haven’t met those thresholds. But now some hourly employees and their attorneys are trying a new approach.

Here’s a new Florida case you should be aware of. A federal district court judge has allowed an FMLA interference case to go forward based on an employee’s testimony that she was absent due to a serious health condition when her employer terminated her.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) has introduced legislation to formally expand the definition of “family” under the FMLA to include “a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling or grandparent.”
Doctors sometimes tell pregnant employees they can’t lift anything in excess of a certain weight. If the job requires such lifting, there is nothing to prevent the employer from placing the pregnant worker on FMLA leave.

Be careful how supervisors treat employees returning from FMLA leave. Otherwise you could face an interference or retaliation lawsuit. Bosses must treat a returning employee the same way she was treated before she went out on leave. Any sudden, increased scrutiny spells trouble.

Supervisors and managers who work for private employers have long been held personally liable for FMLA violations in which they participate. Now supervisors and managers who work for government agencies are also liable.
Many employers use a point system to punish absenteeism, firing employees who accumulate too many points. Such a system negates the need to track the total number of hours of work an employee misses, since the employer is counting points rather than time.
Q. An employee recently requested a leave of absence because her husband left for Afghanistan. We denied her request. Now, I’m worried that we may have acted wrongly. Did we?
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