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. On the U.S. Department of Labor’s Form WH-381 “Employer’s Response to Employee,” there is a line that asks whether the worker is a “key employee” as described in the FMLA regulations. I always check the box indicating that the worker is a key employee. How should I mark these boxes? I consider most of our workers key employees, and I do not want to offend anyone by suggesting that they are not.

Especially in a lousy economy, fired employees will look for a reason to sue. You must be able to defend every discharge against possible discrimination and retaliation claims. The only safe approach is to document that you treated every employee equally. You simply can’t cut slack for one employee and not another.

Some employers cut more slack than the FMLA requires when employees fail to give timely notice that they want to take FMLA leave. The company typically might send an employee a letter informing her that, since she didn’t show up for her last scheduled shift or offered an explanation, she has five days to return or explain why she can’t work. If the reason is one covered by the FMLA, she may already have lost the right to claim FMLA leave.
Employers sometimes mistakenly focus only on the FMLA provision that defines a serious health condition as one that incapacitates an employee for three calendar days or more. Don’t focus solely on illnesses of three days’ duration. If the employee has a brief flare-up of an underlying condition that has been treated in the past, he may be eligible for FMLA leave.

Federal courts often use the well-known McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting test to determine whether an employer has unlawfully discriminated against an employee. Now the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that when it considers an Illinois workers’ compensation retaliation claim, it must apply an Illinois state law rule that is more demanding for employees than the McDonnell Douglas test.

Some workers decide to provide notice that they’ll need FMLA leave long before they’re even eligible for coverage. When you get such a request, don’t reject it out-of-hand.
Q. How does the recent amendment to the Illinois Family Military Leave Act affect employers?
Employers naturally expect employees to show up on a regular basis, unless there’s an illness or emergency.But some employees have medical or other conditions that cause sporadic attendance. If they claim a disability, then they must be able to prove they can perform a job’s essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations.

 

Employees don’t have much time to file ADA or NJLAD disability discrimination claims with the appropriate agency. For failure-to-accommodate claims, the clock starts ticking when the employer ends the interactive reasonable accommodations process. That’s why employers must nail down that date and tell the employee.

Employees are protected against retaliation for taking FMLA leave. Disciplining an employee who has just returned from such leave is risky, especially if you can’t point to anything truly objective as the reason. Attributing a “poor attitude” to returning employees is a bad idea unless you can provide specific examples of actual work deficiencies.

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