FMLA Guidelines — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 10
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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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Employees on FMLA don’t earn protection against legitimate discipline for reasons unrelated to FMLA leave.
The FMLA is supposed to protect employees from losing their jobs when they can’t work due to a serious health condition. Minor maladies such as colds, headaches and body aches usually aren’t enough to merit protected leave. That’s true even if the employee goes to a doctor and gets a prescription, unless the health care provider also tells the worker to return within 30 days for a follow up or otherwise actively monitors the illness.
You risk a lawsuit if you don’t advise employees of their FMLA rights. Employees are entitled to individual notice so they can make informed decisions about when to return to work.
A federal district court in Texas has issued an injunction preventing—at least temporarily—the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing a final rule granting FMLA rights to legally married same-sex spouses.
Job interviews present a minefield of legal problems. One wrong question could spark a discrimination lawsuit. That's why you should never "wing it" during interviews. Instead, create a list of interview questions and make sure every question asks for job-related information that will help in the selection process. To avoid the appearance of discrimination during interviews, do not ask the following 25 questions:
Q. When an employee calls off sick for more than one day, is there a minimum amount of days off required before an employer can ask for a doctor’s note? Can we ask the specific reason for the absence?
Before rejecting a disabled employee’s request for additional time off as a reasonable accommodation, consider whether the time would allow the employee to return. If not, you probably won’t have to provide the additional leave.

When slapped with discipline shortly after taking FMLA leave, some employees jump to the conclusion that it’s retaliation for taking time off. That would be illegal, and could prompt a lawsuit. Don’t make their legal case easy.

When one of your employees takes FMLA leave, you may require a fitness-for-duty exam showing she is fully able to perform her job before you allow her to return. As long as you require everyone who takes FMLA leave to undergo such exams, the rules authorize you to discharge workers who can’t or don’t provide certification before their return.
Here’s something to remember when you are ready to dismiss an employee for poor attendance: You can’t use any FMLA leave as a negative factor, and you can’t include any FMLA leave when tallying absences.
With almost no advance notice, the federal government has revised recently expired FMLA forms to reflect a new effective date: March 31, 2015. The core suite of FMLA forms—doctors’ certifications of serious health conditions, notices of rights and responsibilities and designation notices—was set to expire Feb. 28.
The rule change grants FMLA leave rights to same-sex spouses even in states that do not sanction or recognize gay marriage.

Here’s something to consider if a discharged disabled employee who simply could not do her job sues, alleging disability discrimination. Check to see if she has applied for disability benefits and get a copy of the application. If she didn’t qualify her disability by claiming she could perhaps do some work if reasonably accommodated, she may have killed her chances to argue she was qualified for her old position, too.

Q: “Can we refuse a request for FMLA intermittent leave for a serious health condition when the physician has checked the box indicating that there is no part of that employee’s job that the employee is not able to perform? We included a copy of the job description with the FMLA paperwork we provided.” – Kary, Maryland

Sometimes a pregnant employee develops problems that amount to a temporary disability. Then she may need accommodations. But if those accommodations don’t allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, you can place the employee on FMLA leave. If she can’t return to work when her FMLA entitlement is up, you may terminate the employee without violating the FMLA.

Employees fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. But what is willful misconduct? The term is broad and can include all kinds of behavior, such as refusing to cooperate with an employer’s rea­­sonable request for information.
Employees who take FMLA leave are generally entitled to come back to their old jobs when they return. If you make any changes to their jobs, be sure you can document solid business reasons that are unrelated to FMLA leave.
Warn supervisors that they shouldn’t comment on the time that employees take off for medical treatments. If the underlying medical condition is a disability under the ADA, such comments may come back later to haunt the employer.
There are ways to discourage FMLA leave abuse. One is to make taking leave just a little inconvenient by requiring more than a simple call-in. You can, for example, require the employee to notify both his supervisor and someone in the HR or benefits office. That’s perfectly fine as long as everyone on intermittent leave has to do the same.
Employees are supposed to notify their employers about their need for FMLA leave as soon as is practical. When they are already out on leave with a set return date, the same rule applies if the employee will need more time off. He or she can’t just extend the leave without telling anyone and expect to keep the job.
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