Go figure: Some employees get stressed out when they suspect they’re facing serious discipline or even termination. That understandable anxiety doesn’t mean you have to stop the disciplinary process. Unless the employee asks for FMLA leave or otherwise gives you enough information to indicate that she has a serious health condition—and not just nerves—you can go ahead with your investigation.
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.
The FLSA allows employers to round off an hourly employee’s arrival or departure time to the nearest five minutes, tenth of an hour or quarter of an hour. But your rounding practices can’t always favor the employer. Rounding must be neutral or it must favor the employee. That means if you round down, you must also round up. You have several ways to make rounding fair:
Employees who suffer from chronic conditions may have to see their doctors regularly. Under the FMLA, if those employees give you 30 days’ notice, they’re allowed to pick the day for their appointment. You can’t simply argue that they don’t need to take off that particular day because there is no emergency or urgency.
Q. We have an employee who is on leave for two weeks to care for her ill husband. She is also pregnant and has told us she wants to take FMLA leave after she gives birth. We haven’t yet designated her current time off as FMLA leave. Can we do so and cut her entitlement by two weeks?
Before you decide to fire a troublesome employee for missing work because the absences aren’t covered by the FMLA, double-check your math. In one recent case, the employer fired a “poor-performing” employee but cited a dubious reason: She was frequently absent to care for her father and wasn’t yet eligible for FMLA leave. In fact, it turned out she was eligible and the court wouldn’t buy any of the other discharge reasons.
Q. Is calling in “sick” sufficient notice that an employee needs FMLA leave?
Employees returning from military service are entitled to come back to their old jobs, and they have other limited job protections, too. But those protections don’t mean employers can never discipline or demote employees who have been serving in the armed forces. Just make sure you’re doing so for legitimate business reasons, such as documented poor performance.
Q. An employee went out of FMLA leave three weeks ago to undergo and recover from knee surgery. Last night, a reliable and trusted employee spotted him at the local YMCA playing a game of pick-up basketball. We now have serious doubts about the validity of his FMLA leave. Is there anything we can do?
Change your policy now if you automatically terminate employees who use up their FMLA leave and can’t yet to return to work without restrictions. That’s because the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination requires employers to start an interactive accommodations process when they learn an employee may be disabled.
When an employee plans on taking FMLA leave, employers have to plan for the impending absence. That can include reassigning the employee to a less “mission-critical” job or temporarily removing responsibilities. Don’t worry that doing so will trigger a successful FMLA lawsuit.