The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees who need to take time off of work to deal with a serious health problem or to care for a loved one. It is an essential program to make sure that while health and other things are falling apart, they will still have money to live on and a job to come back to. Unfortunately, many employees take advantage and abuse this Act, and slowly chip away at the success of your company.
ERM Insurance Brokers want to help you prevent and pinpoint those employees who seek to exploit the FMLA. There are two ways that employees abuse the Family Leave Act: 1. Using the act without have a legitimate reason 2. Falsifying medical documents to prove they have a medical cause. *Many abusers will take time off intermittently and actually go over the annual allotment of 12 weeks, assuming that you aren't tracking their days.
Here are 5 Strategies for Curbing FMLA Abuse:
1. Require employees to submit medical documentation—or a form drafted by your organization—to corroborate their need to take FMLA leave to care for a covered family member with a serious health condition or for the employee’s own serious health condition.
2. Scrutinize the internal form or medical documentation to ensure it is fully and accurately completed. If the submitted materials are incomplete or insufficient (as established by the policy above), send the employee a written request for additional information and specify a time period for receiving it.
3. Train managers to look out for trends, like frequent Monday and Friday absences, that may indicate FMLA leave abuse. Identifying such a pattern could necessitate that the employee resubmit medical certification for those absences.
4. Empower managers to ask reasonable questions when an employee reports an absence. Managers should be trained to identify whether the conditions of an absence would qualify an employee for FMLA leave. Prior to acting, legal counsel should be consulted.
5. Depending on state law, consider prohibiting, in writing, the ability of employees on FMLA leave to work other jobs and still qualify for leave.
*As always ERM suggests taking legal counsel before taking action against an FMLA abuser. As part of being an ERM client, you have access to some of the best employment lawyers in their field.