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. One of our full-time employees took time off when her husband had a heart attack. We’re a small company with 30 employees. Management was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had accumulated several weeks of paid leave. Is it legal to keep her from taking paid time off to care for her husband?
Because of a bedrock Constitutional principle, a court has ruled that the FMLA does not cover state government employees who want to take time off due to their own illness. Based on this decision, state employees can only use FMLA leave to care for others.
Q. We run FMLA and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. At what point can we terminate an employee?
It’s OK to change work rules while an employee is out on FMLA or other medical leave. It’s legal, as long as the rule applies equally to every similarly situated employee.

Exempt employees are generally expected to work as long and as hard as they need to in order to get their jobs done. But that doesn’t mean employers should expect exempt employees returning from FMLA leave to burn the midnight oil to get caught up if there was no plan in place to pick up the slack during the absence. Insisting on that is an invitation to be sued for retaliation.

It’s understandable that someone who has had a heart attack and taken time off to recover might assume that he’s disabled under the terms of the ADA. That’s not always the case. As is true of other conditions, it’s only a disability if the heart attack’s residual effects substantially impair a major life function.

You should hold disabled employees to the same behavioral standards as other employees, unless there is a good disability-related reason to deviate from the rules. For example, if you set strict time limits for lunches and authorized breaks, there is no reason to give disabled employees more time unless allowing more time is a legitimate reasonable accommodation.

Some employers mistakenly believe that fathers aren’t allowed to take time off before their child is born to deal with prenatal complications.

Terminated employees sometimes have to file for bankruptcy. Sometimes they sue former employers, too. In that case, they’re required to inform the bankruptcy court about their pending lawsuit. If you lose a lawsuit, have your attorney find out whether the former employee has filed for bankruptcy. You may find that you have a “get out of jail free” card.

Employees often have legitimate reasons for accusing their employers of retaliation. But sometimes, employees themselves retaliate against a company, either out of malice, or to head off being fired. That’s one reason it pays to try to anticipate employee misfeasance and guard against sabotage.

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