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Delete cryptic notes lurking in your HR files

Before you toss that handwritten note into the employee’s file today, stop for a second and read it. Years from now, will you remember what that chicken-scratch meant? Many lawsuits have turned on one or two words scrawled by a manager or HR pro after employee meetings and conversations.

Tell supervisors: No matter the inconvenience, never interfere with employees’ FMLA rights

Let’s face it: It makes a manager’s job harder when employees are out on FMLA leave. That’s especially true with intermittent leave. Don’t let those hard feelings turn into an FMLA interference lawsuit. Instead, insist that managers honor approved intermittent leave without hassling the employee.

Check eligibility before sending FMLA letter

A federal trial court has ruled that FMLA-ineligible employees can sue if an employer erroneously told them they were eligible for leave and they relied on that information to their detriment.

Make sure employees understand FMLA calendar

FMLA regulations give employers several options for calculating how much leave employees are entitled to at any given time. Which method should your organization select? That depends on how much record-keeping you want to do.

If you spot FMLA mistake, go ahead and fix it

Here’s something to consider if you discover an FMLA leave mistake: Just fix it. If you erroneously imposed some kind of discipline for violating your attendance rules, rescind it. Chances are a court won’t hold your error against you.

Never base RIF decision on FMLA leave status


Employees who take FMLA leave don’t enjoy greater protection than anyone else when it comes to reductions in force. If a position would have been eliminated regardless of whether the employee took FMLA leave, then the termination doesn’t violate the law. On the other hand, it’s dangerous to change who is scheduled to be laid off after learning that an em­­ployee plans to take FMLA leave.

Warn supervisors: It’s not your job to question why employees take FMLA leave


Employees can’t be deprived of FMLA leave as long as they meet the law’s requirements for length of employment and hours worked and must deal with their own or a family member’s serious health condition. After FMLA leave has been approved, it’s a huge mistake to question employees about how they use their leave. Essentially, doing so may be interpreted as interference with the right to take leave.

Messed up? Then ‘fess up and fix your mistake


Hey, it happens: Sometimes, employers mess up. But they can undo much of the damage by acting fast to fix mistakes. Take this case, in which a termination letter was sent by mistake while the disciplinary process was still under way. A quick explanation and retraction saved the day.

Employee returning from FMLA leave? Insist on ability to perform essential functions

Employees who take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition are entitled to return to their former jobs or equivalent ones once their leave is up. But if an employee still can’t perform an essential function of the old job, you may not have to reinstate him.

The FMLA Calendar: 4 Methods to Counting an ‘FMLA Year’

The FMLA was created to allow employees time off to deal with their own serious health conditions or those of family members who need medical care. But the law carefully balances the rights of employees to keep their jobs while facing temporary hardships with the rights of employers to run their businesses. That’s one reason […]