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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Have you ever been suspicious about an employee’s request for FMLA leave? Employees have learned to play the FMLA game quite well in the 17 years since the law was passed. In this new case, an "attendance-challenged" employee was denied extra vacation leave for her wedding, so she then submitted an FMLA leave request for those same dates. Hmmmm … smell fishy?

After last year’s swine flu scare, there’s good reason to worry about the upcoming flu season. A serious outbreak could incapacitate employers operating with lean staffing. Some employees may want to take time off if they suspect they’re coming down with the flu. And at least some of those workers may assume that sick time off will be covered by the FMLA. That’s where things get tricky.

It's unfortunate that as an HR professional you have to add managing FMLA abuse to your "to do list." But the reality is that the complexities of the FMLA open the door for unscrupulous workers to take advantage of the law and your organization — by requesting leave for not-so-serious health problems, or worse, by taking intermittent leave as a way to escape disciplinary action for tardiness or poor attendance.

Some employees are difficult, always skating on thin ice. They’re disruptive, don’t listen to directions and pretty much do whatever they want. Even so, employers often hesitate to fire such troublemakers if they’ve recently requested FMLA leave or claimed to be disabled. Don’t be manipulated into keeping those bad apples.

Q. We have an employee who cares for a child but does not have a legal or biological relationship to the child. The employee wants to take a child-related leave under the FMLA. Is she eligible?
Before you decide to videotape someone whom you suspect may be abusing FMLA leave, make sure you have a good-faith reason to do so. And be prepared to show that surveillance is a common practice for similar suspicions.
During last year’s swine flu pandemic, lots of employers came up with contingency plans in case employees got sick. Most swine flu cases, thankfully, ended up being quite mild. And as a practical matter, that probably meant that most employees who had swine flu would not have been eligible for FMLA leave because they weren’t incapacitated or unable to perform the essential functions of their jobs for three days.
A new 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case allows employers to use an employee’s FMLA certification as the basis for requesting a fitness-for-duty exam if the certification asserts that the employee can’t perform an essential function of her job. That’s especially true in high-pressure professions when an alleged FMLA serious health condition affects an employee’s ability to function while at work.

California lawmakers—and courts—don’t like noncompete agreements because they limit employee mobility and career growth. Most employers understand that they can’t enforce such agreements if an employee leaves. But what about an informal “gentlemen’s agreement” between competitors to refrain from hiring employees who signed agreements?

Elective surgery that isn’t medically necessary may not be eligible for FMLA leave because the employee having the procedure may not be suffering from a serious health condition. Challenge such leave requests by asking for the second and third certifications that the FMLA allows.

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