Employers still insist that managing unforeseeable intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of their toughest challenges. Most companies require employees to continue to perform their job, to help keep the operation running. While some employers feel there is little they can do to manage such leave, some steps that are highlighted below may be taken to help ease the pain.
Don’t let up on your FMLA administration tasks, including reviewing and possibly questioning suspicious intermittent FMLA leave. You could even provide reminders to all employees that FMLA leave taken on a fraudulent basis is grounds for termination. Bathroom stall posters, for example, can reach most employees.
Train your supervisors and managers
Managers and supervisors are often the weak link in your FMLA administration chain. What they don’t know can hurt the company. Therefore, train them (and retrain them) on how to identify real and potential leave notices, and how they should respond. If they are to pass such incidents off to the company leave administrator, remind them how do to this. If they have greater involvement in the process, be sure they fully understand their roles and responsibilities. You may even include this as part of their job performance review.
Make and keep employees accountable
You are not the only one with FMLA responsibilities. If an employee requests leave, he or she also has some tasks to perform. Clearly inform employees of their responsibilities, perhaps in a checklist complete with applicable deadlines, and hold the employees to such responsibilities. This could, for example, include anything from providing notice in a timely manner, providing a certification supporting the need for leave, checking in while on leave, and providing a fitness-for-duty certification. Enforce the company policies regarding calling in and using accrued paid time off.
Ask for certifications and recertifications
For most FMLA leave requests, you may ask that the employee provide you with a complete and sufficient certification supporting the need for leave. Put this onus on the employee, in part to communicate that the FMLA’s powerful protections are not given lightly. Review each certification carefully to ensure the leave qualifies as FMLA leave. Request recertifications when allowed, particularly in situations with suspicious leave, such as Monday/Friday leave patterns.
Note: Don’t ask for a certification for bonding with a healthy child.
Check out the Spotlights and news articles regarding the FMLA to see what worked for other employers, and what didn’t. Changes to the rules and laws can also be found in the news.