Does summertime feel like FMLA stands for the “Friday Monday Leave Act” instead of the Family and Medical Leave Act?
From late May to early September, you expect some empty desks or vacant work stations because of pre-approved PTO.
What can’t be planned for is people making FMLA claims for absence that may not be on the up-and-up.
Keep employees honest
Don’t hesitate to put a system in place and use it to protect the company from lost productivity due to FMLA abuse.
FMLA is intended to protect workers from losing their job over a medical or family emergency.
It’s never meant for “It’s too nice outside to go to the office” or “The kids want to go to the beach” time off.
5 ways to stop FMLA abuse
That’s why Jeff Nowak, author of the FMLAInsights.com blog, recommends the following tactics to make sure all time taken as FMLA fits the criteria:
• Get written leave requests. You can’t deny FMLA if the worker provides verbal notice of leave and gives a reason why they can’t follow proper procedures to request it in writing. However, ask for their request upon their return.
• Ask questions. When FMLA is requested, ask the worker: What is the reason for your FMLA absence? What functions of your job can you not perform? Will you see a doctor?
• Have call-in procedures. If you don’t have written policies requiring when an employee should report an absence, work with legal counsel to get this started. It also allows you to address staffing issues early in the workday.
• Certify and re-certify. Many employers fail to request the medical certification form from the doctor which states why an employee is in need of leave. Make it a practice to request it and keep it handy. Then request recertification every 30 days.
• Follow patterns. If the employee takes FMLA only around holidays or weekends, check with their doctor to confirm if this is related to their health condition. But only ask about what’s covered on the certification form.
If you aren’t using these guidelines, meet with employment counsel to audit your FMLA policies.
Use best practices to combat abuse and effectively administer FMLA in your workplace.