May 8, 2012

Making Intermittent FMLA Less of a Pain through Smart Policy Additions

labor law conferenceEasing the pain and frustration of rampant intermittent leave may seem like a sort of Holy Grail for HR professionals but there are a number of policy additions that can work to alleviate some of the suffering. And while you can’t openly ban the practice of using FMLA for valid recurrent leave time, you can help put a stop to its abuse. Recently speaking at the 2012 Labor Employment Law Advanced Practices symposium in Las Vegas, attorney George Yund offered a bevy of ideas on how to create an effective FMLA HR policy.

First on the list is to always ask for notice. Require that employees give notice as soon as they discover the need for leave. Afterwards, make certain that supervisors are noting the leave as FMLA so that employees immediately begin to eat into their allotment. Up to 30 days notice may be required for leave that is anticipated ahead of time.

Next, since FMLA leave is never paid (even for exempt employees), ensure that appropriate payment deductions are made from the absent employee’s wages. Nothing has the ability to stop abuse better than hitting the wallet. It is not always common knowledge that intermittent leave is not available for reasons of childbirth or adoption. Intermittent FMLA leave may be denied for absences related to parental care.

Finally, FMLA leave is required to be medically necessary. Before approving intermittent leave, require a medical certification from both the medical provider and the employee. Inquire about specific reasons, anticipated dates of absence, and when the employee is receiving treatment. Employers may even seek second and third opinions if any doubt exists over the validity of a claim.

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.