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 20
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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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Some employees and their treating doctors seem to believe that as long as a medical professional says an employee can’t work, that’s enough to justify FMLA leave. That’s not true.

The FMLA allows employers that don’t want to accept an employee’s medical certification to ask for (and pay for) a second opinion. If the two opinions contradict one another, the employer may pay for a third, tie-breaking assessment. But that can be expensive. If you prefer to simply deny the employee’s leave request, that’s fine.

Q. Do we have to take a nurse’s signature on an FMLA certification? I’d like to have an actual doctor sign the forms so I am sure someone actually saw the employee.

There are some words that should never come from a supervisor’s mouth—including any statement that would seem to encourage an employee to drop an EEOC complaint. That just about guarantees that a retaliation or interference lawsuit will go to trial should anything adverse (like a discharge or demotion) happen to the employee to whom the supervisor was speaking.

Employees who are so sick they need FMLA leave certainly can’t perform essential job functions while on leave. Employers must alter their workload expectations accordingly. If they don’t, and then later punish the employee for poor performance, an FMLA interference lawsuit is almost sure to follow.

Good news on the FMLA front: A court has ruled that employees have to do more than merely mention that a family member is sick to trigger an employer’s FMLA obligations.
Employees with serious medical conditions that require occasional time off are entitled to intermittent FMLA leave. If you grant leave and the employee makes a new request that wasn’t specified in the original medical certification, you can insist on a new certification.
The FMLA allows double damages for willful violations. Recently, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the extra damages can be levied against an employer that essentially rubber-stamps a supervisor’s wrongful termination decision.
Some managers still don’t understand why dads need—or are legally entitled to—bonding time with their newborns. Make sure your supervisors understand that it’s unlawful to retaliate against men who take such FMLA leave to care for their children or parents.
Employees who have taken FMLA leave and then been fired often sue. However, all is not lost for ­employers faced with such a case—if they can show they would have fired the em­­ployee anyway. In fact, chances are, they’ll win.
FMLA leave can cause major headaches for supervisors. After all, they have to make sure the work gets done while an employee is out. That can be especially difficult if they’re trying to hold off on hiring and get by with current staffing levels.
A federal court has rejected Hersha Hospitality Management’s request to toss out an FMLA interference lawsuit filed by an employee who had only worked for the Harrisburg company for 10 months when she was fired.
It’s frustrating to deal with employees who call in on short notice to say they won’t be able to make it to work. Even so, don’t let it get to you. An angry reaction could launch an FMLA lawsuit. That could happen if you are already thinking about terminating the employee.
Supervisors who handle employee return-to-work requests following FMLA leave must know what they are doing. Otherwise, your legal risk could rise significantly.

When an employee takes FMLA leave because her physician says she’s too sick to work and needs to stay home, it’s natural to assume she’ll follow the doctor’s orders. But what if you discover that she isn’t—and is instead working for someone else during her leave? Can you terminate her? Of course.

Q. One of our managers resigned a month ago, but she applied for FMLA leave a day before she quit. Are we under any obligation to return her to a position from which she resigned? Are we obligated to offer her a job when FMLA expires?

Absenteeism is a big problem for many employers. If you suspect that some employees are taking advantage of your leave programs, you can and should come up with a plan to catch them, as one employer recently did.

Most pregnancies proceed normally, with little or no real trouble for the mother. However, that’s not always the case. When things go wrong, the mother-to-be may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. That’s true even if she hasn’t worked for her employer long enough to be eligible for FMLA leave.

Employees are supposed to get FMLA certifications back to their employers within 15 days. But it’s not a good idea to terminate an employee simply because you didn’t receive the paperwork on time. The FMLA regulations include an out for employees who miss the deadline for reasons beyond their control.

Ill-chosen words can haunt incautious supervisors. Example: Using the term “slacker” to describe someone who misses lots of work. Here’s why: Disparaging comments may be proof that the employer retaliated against an employee for taking too much leave.
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