Most people think of 50 as the magic number for the FMLA. “Oh, we have 50 employees, so now we have to comply with the FMLA,” is a popular refrain among HR departments. It is not that simple. The FMLA has two different rules that must be met before you have to offer FMLA leave to an employee—coverage and eligibility, which both have the magic number 50 as a key component.
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.
You may have read that employers aren’t permitted to force employees to take medical exams because they could reveal a disability. While pre-employment, pre-job-offer medical exams are barred, there are times when medical exams are fine. The key is whether the exams are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Even legitimate discipline against a lousy employee can spell FMLA trouble if somehow that discipline happens more quickly than it did for other employees with similar disciplinary problems. Advice: Take your time when disciplining workers who have taken FMLA leave. It’s better to be right than fast.
Employees occasionally have to step in on short notice to help care for a family member and may legitimately need FMLA leave to handle those responsibilities. Go ahead and suggest FMLA time off. However, until the employee takes you up on the offer, you can hold her to your regular attendance policy.
Many employers don’t like to provide specific reasons for firing someone. Instead, they simply tell the employee that he is being terminated from his at-will employment. Don’t take that as an excuse not to document the reason you are terminating the employee.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has finally settled a key question: Can employers and employees settle FMLA disputes without having to get either court or Department of Labor approval? The court said yes, such cases can be settled between the parties without outside interference. That’s good news.
When it comes to deciding whether to grant reasonable accommodations, the first step is to determine whether the employee is really disabled. A diagnosis isn’t the last word. Does the condition actually limit the employee in some substantial way?
These days, much of the evidence used in employment litigation is electronic—such as attendance records. Courts require employers to preserve such evidence when employers reasonably know that a lawsuit could arise. If evidence is destroyed, courts can impose heavy financial sanctions and even hand a win to the other side without a trial.
If an employee gets a certification showing he has a serious health condition under the FMLA, you can request a second, independent assessment. But if the second opinion says the condition isn’t serious, that’s not the final word. FMLA regulations require a third opinion as the tie-breaker.