Maternity Leave Laws
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Employers are often confused about how much absenteeism they must allow for employees who haven’t worked long enough to be covered by the FMLA, and who aren’t otherwise entitled to miss work as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The bottom line is that if you treat everyone equally, you can set high attendance expectations—and fire those who don’t meet them.
When it comes to employment lawsuits, HR is a lot like flying an airplane: The most risky parts of the trip are at the takeoff (hiring) and the landing (dismissal). With hiring, you can limit the employment-law risks by following the legally safe steps and training supervisors to do the same.
Some employees try to fabricate a lawsuit by resigning and then alleging that some form of discrimination made their working conditions so intolerable that they had no choice but to quit. The name of this claim: constructive discharge. Fortunately for employers, it takes more than a few isolated comments to create intolerable conditions. And, as the following case shows, the fear that working conditions will become intolerable isn’t enough to justify quitting before things get bad at work.
Q. Our pay stubs currently list employees’ available vacation, sick and other leave hours. Our new software allows employees to log in and check that balance anytime. Can we eliminate that information from the pay stubs?
Employees who run out of FMLA leave and are fired under a policy requiring mandatory dismissal for excessive absences may be invited to apply for other open positions when they recover enough to work. Be careful how you handle those reapplications, especially if one of the terminated employees was off because she was pregnant and ran out of leave before being able to return.
Some comments simply aren’t appropriate in the workplace—especially when the person weighing in is a supervisor or manager. Most bosses understand they can’t use ethnic or racial slurs, but many don’t understand that the same common sense applies to discussing family planning.