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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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A court has ruled that so-called “last-chance agreements”—which put off discharge in favor of treatment for an active drug or alcohol problem—are valid as reasonable accommodations. If last-chance agreements were banned, employees with substance abuse problems would lose an important avenue toward keeping their jobs ...

The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) requires employers to reinstate employees who take military-related leave. It also prohibits job discrimination against military or ex-military personnel. But a lesser-known USERRA provision deals with how employers must handle soldiers who return from active duty with injuries or other disabilities. USERRA is similar to the ADA ...

Q. An employee who is unable to work has been out on FMLA for the past few weeks. Our holiday party is coming up next week. Should I allow her to attend if she wants to? ...

Now that the smoke has begun to clear after record wildfires swept through Southern California, employers face some smoldering pay and leave questions. What if the fires forced you to close your workplace? Do you have to pay employees who were ready and able to work? When must your organization pay employees who were forced to leave their homes? ...

Without a doubt, complying with California and federal wage-and-hour rules is difficult. For example, making deductions from the regular salary of exempt employees who are absent can destroy their exemptions and mean back pay for overtime. Thankfully, there is a safe harbor ...

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed California’s new law allowing military spouses to take leave. The law requires some employers to provide up to 10 days of unpaid leave to the spouse of a qualified member of the U.S. armed forces, National Guard or reserves. Here are employer guidelines on exactly how to administer this new entitlement ...

The U.S. Labor Department, the agency that administers the Family and Medical Leave Act, recently collected 15,000 public comments on the law’s effectiveness. A top employer complaint: productivity problems caused by employee use (and abuse) of intermittent leave. Managing intermittent leave can be vexing, but the law does give employers some tools to combat FMLA leave abuse ...

Q. A salaried employee used all his vacation and sick time. He’s allowed 21 days and so far has used 22 this year. He wants to take more vacation in December and is always sick (so he’ll probably be out more). Can I deduct his pay if he’s out more? Or can I take days from next year? — R.E., Pennsylvania ...

Employees who can’t tell their employers they have serious health conditions may still put their employers on notice—and trigger their FMLA rights. “Unusual” behavior alone can be enough to notify a reasonable employer that an employee may have a serious health condition. That unusual behavior can include shouting at a supervisor, a panic reaction or other sudden emotional outbursts ...

Your organization’s employee handbook exists for a reason. It serves as a simple and effective way to let employees know what the rules are and what you expect in the way of behavior. If you can show that employees received copies of the handbook and were expected to be familiar with its contents, you have a good shot at defeating any discriminatory discharge claims if you disciplined according to the rules set out in the handbook ...

If you don’t track hours worked (for example, if you have exempt employees who come and go as they please), you may find yourself in hot water if you claim an employee hasn’t worked enough hours to be eligible for FMLA leave. The FMLA regulations make it clear that if “an employer does not maintain accurate records of hours worked by an employee … the employer has the burden of showing that the employee has not worked the requisite hours” ...

If you want to avoid airing your organization’s dirty laundry in public, take note: Before you turn over a copy of an employee’s personnel record, go through the file carefully. Remove any correspondence between the HR office and your attorney. It is technically privileged communication ...

Employers sometimes find themselves in tricky situations: An employee who has exhausted FMLA leave cannot return to work yet, but might be able to after more time off as an ADA accommodation. In effect, the ADA may extend leave if the employee is disabled. But a new case shows that an employer’s quick action may stop the clock ...

Q. I have an employee who is scheduled for surgery and will be going on FMLA leave. What forms will I need? There is a possibility that he will not return after the 12 weeks. How long will we be required to hold his position for him? ...

Q. If a salaried employee has used up all vacation and sick time, yet wants to take more vacation or calls in sick, can we make deductions from his pay? If not, what can we do? We don’t want the employees getting out of hand ...

Q. We’re a small company with about 45 employees, but we have another 20 employees who are temporary. Do we have to count the temps when complying with the EEO or other employment laws? ...

Many employers try to simplify medical leave policies by adopting the same eligibility requirements set by the FMLA. But those same employers sometimes make exceptions for select employees, especially if they are seen as too valuable to lose to a short medical leave. Watch out if that’s your informal practice. Denying that flexibility to pregnant employees probably violates the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act ...

Ohio state law may provide limited protection for employees fired in violation of “public policy.” But as the following case shows, those cases are limited to at-will employees, not those who have the protection of union representation or a union contract. Such employees don’t need the same protection that at-will employees may need ...

Good news from the annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey: The absenteeism rate for U.S. businesses was 2.3% in 2007, down slightly from 2.5% last year. The bad news: Two-thirds of your employees who call in sick at the last minute aren’t really sick. Instead, they’re skipping work to deal with personal or family issues ...

The FMLA allows employers to designate time off as FMLA leave even if employees want to use other time off (such as vacation and personal days) to deal with serious health issues. But be careful—if the time off turns out to be for a health condition that wasn’t serious and you later deny FMLA leave because the employee has none in the bank, she can charge you with interference with her FMLA rights ...

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