FMLA

When is it OK to call an employee who is out on FMLA leave?

05/26/2015
When employees are out on FMLA leave, they’re supposed to be freed of their regular work responsibilities. While you shouldn’t give an employee specific work tasks or expect her to spend her time working at home, you can make simple inquiries, such as asking about the status of a project or where a file may be located. Just keep the conversation brief and professional.

Sudden FMLA leave? Focus on logistics

05/26/2015
There’s no doubt that a key em­­ployee’s sudden and unexpected extended absence can disrupt business. Even so, remind supervisors to keep their gripes to themselves if it turns out that the employee is exercising her FMLA rights.

OK to discipline for intermittent leave abuse

05/19/2015
Unexpected absences can cause scheduling headaches. However, since FMLA leave is an entitlement, there isn’t much employers can do—at least when the call-offs are legitimate. But not every absence is legit.

Does FMLA apply to same-sex spouses who don't live in states that recognize same-sex marriage?

05/18/2015
Q. We have operations in South Dakota, and one of our employees there has requested FMLA leave to care for his same-sex spouse for an FMLA-qualified reason. The couple was married in Minnesota, but South Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage. Should we grant the FMLA leave request?

You don't always have to be right--just honest

05/18/2015
As long as you act in good faith, most courts will uphold your honest HR decisions.

Court: Arbitration OK as long as employee doesn't have to give up any rights

05/18/2015
A federal court has upheld an arbitration agreement negotiated between a union and an employer that compelled individual arbitration for FMLA claims.

Focus on performance--not attendance--when firing employee who used FMLA

05/18/2015
Employers that rely on absenteeism to fire such a worker may find themselves in court arguing over which absences and late arrivals should be included or excluded—and hope they got it right.

Spell out rules for returning from FMLA leave

05/18/2015
What do you expect an employee to do at the end of approved FMLA leave? Clarify that it’s the employee’s responsibility to notify the employer and check his schedule when he receives medical clearance. Then, if the employee ignores your instructions and doesn’t show up, it’s willful misconduct—making him ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Can we put travel limits on workers taking FMLA?

05/15/2015
Q. Do we have to let an employee leave the United States to visit his home country while on family medical leave? Are there restrictions? — Terry, New Jersey

Expect litigation if you try to quibble over return-to-work schedule following FMLA leave

05/06/2015
Employees who take protected FMLA leave are entitled to reinstatement to the same or a substantially similar job once cleared for work after their leave is over. Reducing the employee’s hours on return could be seen as interference with FMLA rights.

FMLA and ADA accommodation: Don't dismiss request to work from home

05/06/2015

If, after FMLA leave, an employee asks for more time off or to work from home, handle the request just like you would another disabled employee’s reasonable accommodation request. Verify the disability and discuss possible accommodations before you reject the request. Otherwise, a jury may hold you liable.

OK to call employee who is on FMLA leave--just keep the conversation short and sweet

05/04/2015

Employees out on FMLA leave are supposed to be freed of their regular work responsibilities. They are on leave, after all. Some supervisors have taken this to mean that they may never call an employee who is out on FMLA leave to discuss work-related matters. That’s not entirely true.

Prepare for legal trouble when bosses play detective with employees on FMLA leave

04/29/2015
Train all supervisors about the FMLA. Instruct them to refer any perceived problems to HR. Direct supervisors should not, for example, conduct their own “investigations” into whether an employee is abusing intermittent FMLA leave by conducting surveillance or taking other intrusive steps. Doing so may net a lawsuit alleging interference with FMLA rights.

Is early termination OK when employee who is on FMLA submits her resignation?

04/13/2015
Q. An employee who is off on an approved FMLA leave just submitted her resignation, providing two weeks’ notice. Our employee handbook asks employees to provide a two-week notice when possible. May we terminate the employee’s employment immediately rather than wait two weeks?

Routine medical care doesn't trigger FMLA

04/13/2015
The FMLA is supposed to protect employees from losing their jobs when they can’t work due to a serious health condition. Minor maladies such as colds, headaches and body aches usually aren’t enough to merit protected leave. That’s true even if the employee goes to a doctor and gets a prescription, unless the health care provider also tells the worker to return within 30 days for a follow up or otherwise actively monitors the illness.
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