FMLA

Beware handing out discipline so soon after FMLA request

02/20/2015

When it comes to the FMLA, courts always pull out their stopwatches and calendars to see how closely the employee’s protected activity (requesting or taking FMLA leave) coincides with the adverse action (discipline or firing). As this case shows, the smaller the time, the bigger your risk of liability.

Choose one: Total disability or accommodation

02/10/2015

Here’s something to consider if a discharged disabled employee who simply could not do her job sues, alleging disability discrimination. Check to see if she has applied for disability benefits and get a copy of the application. If she didn’t qualify her disability by claiming she could perhaps do some work if reasonably accommodated, she may have killed her chances to argue she was qualified for her old position, too.

Invoke FMLA when employee can't do job

02/09/2015

Sometimes a pregnant employee develops problems that amount to a temporary disability. Then she may need accommodations. But if those accommodations don’t allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, you can place the employee on FMLA leave. If she can’t return to work when her FMLA entitlement is up, you may terminate the employee without violating the FMLA.

OK to base discipline on pre-FMLA absences

02/04/2015

Until an employee has logged 12 months of service with her employer, she’s not eligible for FMLA leave. After she becomes eligible, you can’t use FMLA-related absences against her. But what about absences occurring before she became eligible? Can you count those? The answer is yes.

The ideal: Those who handle discipline shouldn't have access to FMLA info

02/04/2015
If you have a large enough HR office, it makes good sense to keep the FMLA request-and-approval process separate from the disciplinary process. Doing so ensures that someone with expertise in FMLA administration handles the entire process.

Changing employees' job duties or hours during FMLA leave? Have good reasons

02/04/2015
Employees who take FMLA leave are generally entitled to come back to their old jobs when they return. If you make any changes to their jobs, be sure you can document solid business reasons that are unrelated to FMLA leave.

Can we collect insurance premiums from employee who was out on FMLA leave?

02/02/2015
Q. One of our employees recently returned from FMLA leave. Before he left, the method in which he would pay his share of health insurance premiums was never decided. It’s been two months now and the employee hasn’t mentioned it or attempted to pay us back. What can we do to collect the premium?

Employee won't give up FMLA info? That may be willful misconduct

02/02/2015
Employees fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. But what is willful misconduct? The term is broad and can include all kinds of behavior, such as refusing to cooperate with an employer’s rea­­sonable request for information.

Tell bosses: Don't query medical appointments

02/02/2015
Warn supervisors that they shouldn’t comment on the time that employees take off for medical treatments. If the underlying medical condition is a disability under the ADA, such comments may come back later to haunt the employer.

Require employee to call HR during FMLA leave

02/02/2015
There are ways to discourage FMLA leave abuse. One is to make taking leave just a little inconvenient by requiring more than a simple call-in. You can, for example, require the employee to notify both his supervisor and someone in the HR or benefits office. That’s perfectly fine as long as everyone on intermittent leave has to do the same.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

01/30/2015

HR Law 101: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 prohibits discrimination on the basis of "pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions." Employers can't deny a woman a job or a promotion merely because she's pregnant or has had an abortion ...

Can we replace employee who has been on FMLA leave for 14 weeks and isn't due back soon?

01/21/2015
Q. An employee went out on leave for a medical condition after working for us for 10 months. While the employee was not FMLA-eligible when the leave commenced, he was inadvertently advised that his leave was covered by the FMLA. The employee has now been on leave for 14 weeks, and he is not expected to immediately return to work. We would now like to fill his position. Is this permissible?

Think twice before changing employee's job duties or hours during FMLA leave

01/21/2015
Employees who take FMLA leave are generally entitled to come back to their old jobs when they return. If you make any changes to their jobs, be sure you can document solid business reasons that are unrelated to FMLA leave.

OK to fire if employee doesn't call to explain why he missed expected FMLA return date

01/14/2015
Employees are supposed to notify their employers about their need for FMLA leave as soon as is practical. When they are already out on leave with a set return date, the same rule applies if the employee will need more time off. He or she can’t just extend the leave without telling anyone and expect to keep the job.

FMLA may cover some independent contractors

01/14/2015
A federal appeals court has cast doubt on the longstanding belief that independent contractors are never “employees” under the FMLA.
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