FMLA Guidelines — Page 2
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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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Q. Is it OK to contact an employee during FMLA leave or ask him or her to come in to the office?
Do you have a companywide policy that requires all workers who are out on leave to get a doctor’s certification that they are completely healed before they can return to work? Such a rule may run afoul of the ADA.
When preparing a performance review, remind supervisors that they should never mention FMLA leave or appear to use it as a factor in the evaluation. That can lead to a big jury award later if the review is used to justify termination—even during a reduction in force.
Employees out on FMLA leave don’t enjoy more job protection than employees who don’t take leave. As long as an employer doesn’t terminate because an employee took FMLA leave, it’s perfectly lawful to fire someone during leave.

Employers expect employees to get to work on time. Occasional problems with traffic or family issues sometimes make employees late. But chronic tardiness is another thing altogether. While most employers track tardiness occurrences, they should do more. How?

Punishing a worker for using FMLA leave is illegal retaliation—and the punishment doesn’t have to be something big like termination. Even seemingly minor acts can qualify as retaliation if they would dissuade a reasonable worker from using FMLA leave in the first place.
When it comes to litigation, employers that keep meticulous performance records and can pinpoint exactly when they made important employment decisions typically fare better than those who keep sloppy records.

Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the company’s work site are required to provide FMLA leave to their employees. But even if you're a small employer, innocent mistakes could make the “50/75 rule” meaningless to you — and force you to provide FMLA leave. Learn how to avoid that trap.

It’s time to answer some of the trickier questions about the interaction of the FMLA, the New York Paid Family Leave Law and the state’s Disability Benefits Law.
Be sure to document the reason why you treat some employees differently than others. For example, if employees can’t take leave until they have completed a probationary period, clearly explain that in your handbook.
In an important case that could carve out new rights for new mothers, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that employees returning to work after giving birth may be entitled to light-duty work to accommodate the need to express breast milk for their babies.
Even if you think you have a rock-solid reason to fire someone, don’t count on it as an airtight defense against every lawsuit. Your rationale might, for example, be an excellent defense against an age discrimination claim, but not against an FMLA claim.
If an employee says she is going to need FMLA leave as soon as she becomes eligible, terminating her may amount to interference with the right to take FMLA leave. That’s true even though she wasn’t eligible for leave when she was fired.
An employee who believes she has been fired for discriminatory reasons has the right to sue her employer as soon as she receives a termination notice. That’s true even if the termination isn’t yet effective.
Many employers have maternity leave policies that provide a period of paid time off following birth or adoption. That’s fine. But if you intend for paid maternity leave to run concurrently with federal FMLA leave, be sure you spell that out.
Sometimes, a boss can cause big legal trouble without even saying a word. A sigh or negative look can be enough if the worker on the receiving end perceives the behavior as disapproval.
The FMLA doesn’t cover minor illnesses, and employers are free to punish employees who miss work because of them. However, employers do have an obligation to investigate further if the employee reports she received medical treatment and followed call-off rules.
Typically, courts look at whether an employee has used FMLA leave in the past when considering whether his employer interfered with his FMLA rights more recently.
Employees who qualify for FMLA leave can’t be punished for taking it. Any action that could be seen as dissuading workers from exercising their right to take FMLA leave amounts to interfering with a federal right.
When HR professionals are surveyed, they routinely rate the FMLA and the ADA as the two most difficult laws to deal with. Here’s a look at 10 of the most challenging FMLA and ADA issues HR struggles to handle.
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