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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. 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? ...

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 ...

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 ...

Issue: Employees too often see their base salary as their bottom-line compensation. Risk: Without a clear view of their total compensation package, employees become disillusioned and seek greener ...

The FMLA gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Employers are free to discharge employees who cannot return to work after that time is up—that’s legal under the FMLA. But before you fill out that pink slip, consider whether the employee may be disabled under the ADA. If so, he may be entitled to more time off as an accommodation ...

You expect employees to follow your attendance and time-reporting rules and probably discipline those who don’t. But you need to know that FMLA leave can be an attendance minefield where disciplinary actions can cause great damage. Employees who allege that employers “willfully” interfered with their FMLA rights or retaliated against them for taking FMLA leave have up to three years to sue. One way to prevent the willful violation charge is to take the employee’s supervisor out of the disciplinary process ...

Q. I have a salaried employee who used all his vacation and sick time. He is allowed a total of 21 days and has used 22, but he wants to take more vacation in November 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? This may be an ongoing thing every year ...

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that waiving employers’ past violations of the FMLA requires approval from a court or the U.S. Labor Department. That gives employees a leg up if they sue their employers for violating the FMLA. At the heart of the case is an FMLA regulation that states, “Employees cannot waive their rights under FMLA” ...

When an employee is threatening to file a lawsuit against your organization, it’s natural to feel angry, betrayed or even hurt. But don’t react. Instead, tell him that the decision is his, and you’ll treat him just the same as you always have—lawsuit or no lawsuit ...

Q. While my employees are out on FMLA leave, we pay our share of health plan premiums on behalf of them. If an employee does not return to work following his FMLA leave, can I recover those premiums directly from the employee? ...

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