FMLA

Handbook make-over: 4 guidelines to follow, 5 policies to include

08/23/2011

Each year, new employment laws go on the books and courts write thousands of decisions interpreting old laws. Yet, year after year, HR pros reach up onto a dusty shelf to hand new employees the same old employee handbook someone wrote years ago. It's time for a rewrite. Here's the guidance you need to get started.

FMLA can't be used for school-related absences

08/18/2011

The beginning of the school year finds many anxious parents needing to take some time off from work to deal with school issues. But the FMLA doesn’t cover employees who take time off for school visits or to care for kids who aren’t seriously ill but who must stay home from school. Follow our link to find out what state laws may apply instead.

Worker can't return from FMLA leave? Beware demanding repayment of health benefits

08/11/2011

It’s expensive to cover an absent employee’s health insurance premiums when he is on FMLA leave—especially if he has family coverage. How­­ever, the law requires employers to do so. What happens if the employee doesn’t return? In some cases, em­­ployers can demand reimbursement for the premiums it paid. That’s true except if the employee doesn’t come back because he or she is still sick or has to continue to care for a sick relative.

Doubt medical certification's accuracy? You're allowed to seek a second opinion

08/11/2011

Employees who want FMLA leave for their own illness need a certification from a health care provider. It should document a serious condition, briefly explaining the diagnosis and treatment. Employers that doubt the certification is accurate or want to challenge whether the condition really can seek a second opinion from another health care provider, paid for by the company.

Punish poor behavior, not FMLA leave

08/10/2011
Some employees need FMLA leave to cope with work stress. But that doesn’t mean that employers can’t punish someone who makes threats.

FMLA leave spikes before weekends, holidays? Investigate suspected abuse, fire if warranted

08/08/2011

Employees with chronic medical conditions that flare up unpredictably may be entitled to FMLA leave. But that can create scheduling nightmares for employers. And intermittent leave, by its nature, is subject to abuse. After all, an employee on intermittent leave can simply call in and explain his condition is acting up. But that doesn’t mean employers are powerless when they suspect abuse.

Patience--and focus on job performance--are key when dealing with difficult employee

08/08/2011

It’s often quite obvious when an em­­ployee is having personal problems that she needs to resolve. But employers have to treat such an employee carefully to avoid a possible ADA regarded-as-disabled lawsuit. The key is patience and focusing on workplace performance issues rather than any suspected disability.

Base FMLA eligibility on date leave begins, not date employee requests it

08/08/2011
Some employees—seeing their FMLA eligibility on the horizon—may ask for FMLA leave before they’ve actually hit the one-year and 1,250-hour eligibility milestones. That’s OK. Remember, employers can’t deny an employee’s FMLA re­­quest simply because it was made before the employee became eligible.

Need to fire someone with known medical issues? Be prepared to prove your good faith

07/29/2011

Disabled employees or those who need FMLA leave aren’t immune from following work rules. But think carefully before you punish them. It is possible to terminate an employee who has announced he needs time off or an accommodation. How­ever, you must have a legitimate rea­son—and you must be able to demonstrate that the company acted in good faith.

You must grant FMLA leave for employee who must care for badly injured adult child

07/29/2011

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill son or daughter. That’s true for young children, of course, but also for those older than 18 who are “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” Don’t split hairs on this.

When disaster strikes, are employees eligible for FMLA?

07/29/2011
With tornados, floods and fires topping the news in recent months, a question arises: What’s an employer’s obligation to give FMLA leave when the disaster affects employees or their families?

Do we have to tolerate moonlighting by employee who is out on FMLA leave?

07/26/2011
Q. We recently learned that an employee on FMLA leave is working for another company. Can we fire him?

Requesting light duty isn't an official FMLA request

07/26/2011
The FMLA grants time off for em­­ployees with serious health conditions, but they must let employers know they need leave. Simply requesting light-duty work isn’t enough.

Out of FMLA leave--and out of luck?

07/13/2011
Q. One of our employees has a recurring illness that flares up every so often. By taking a few weeks off here and there, he has used all of his paid time off (PTO) and exhausted his FMLA leave. If he has another flare-up, do we have to permit him to take time off even though it would be more than the FMLA requires or our policies allow?

If employee can't return from FMLA leave, it's not interference to terminate

07/13/2011

Employees who take FMLA leave to deal with their own serious health condition are entitled to reinstatement to their jobs or substantially identical ones when they return. But what if the employee isn’t ready to come back after 12 weeks? In that case, employers don’t have to reinstate the employee—at least not under the FMLA.

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