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Newborn’s Medical Problems May Warrant Shorter Hours

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. A long-standing employee recently took leave under the FMLA to give birth, but her twins have many medical complications. She exhausted her eligibility under our disability carrier and isn't eligible for long-term disability because she is not disabled. We want her back, but she can't commit to even 20 hours a week. What are our obligations under the FMLA, and would this individual be entitled to unemployment compensation if we terminate her? —G.B., New York

A. Leave taken within 12 months of the birth of a child does qualify under the FMLA. Intermittent leave, including a reduced schedule, is allowed for the birth of a child only with the employer's approval or when it's required to care for a child with a serious health condition.

Thus, you should require the employee to submit medical certification clarifying whether a serious health condition exists and whether intermittent leave is truly needed. If she fails to produce such medical certification, or if she has exhausted her 12 weeks of FMLA leave, you can deny further time off. If she's entitled to intermittent leave, you may consider a temporary transfer to an equivalent alternative position to better accommodate her reduced schedule.

With regard to unemployment compensation, it appears you'd face an uphill battle trying to show she's ineligible.

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