6 Best Practices for Modern FMLA Management

Vikrant Shetty

May 8, 2023

11:09 am

Many people are familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when caring for an ill loved one. For specific family and medical reasons, including time off to take care of one’s own or a covered family member’s serious health condition, the FMLA provides employees with up to 12 weeks of leave in a calendar year. It is possible to take leaves constantly or sporadically. While continuous FMLA leave is relatively simple, intermittent and reduced scheduled leave frequently burdens employers with administrative tasks and raises questions about leave abuse. However, the FMLA regulations give employers various tools to manage FMLA breaks and effectively lessen the chance of abuse.

But what are some of the best practices for modern FMLA management? In this article, we will provide six best practices that companies should abide by regarding FMLA and minimize any adverse effects that this complex rule may have on their company.

Verify the worker’s eligibility

Employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months and have been employed by their employer for 12 months to qualify for FMLA leave. Not all medical issues qualify as “serious health problems,” and not all FMLA absence petitions are made for good causes. Please ensure that employees are eligible for FMLA before approving it. If an employee anticipates needing FMLA, they must give at least 30 days’ notice. If the statement is not delivered on time, the employer may postpone the leave until 30 days after that date.

Keep up to date with the law

Employers must comply with state and other medical leave rules and the federal FMLA, which may overlap. State law compliance is essential for businesses that operate in multiple states. It’s crucial to be aware of the regulations in various situations, such as when employees take long periods off vs. brief periods or work a reduced schedule for a while.

Establish FMLA administration guidelines and follow them consistently

The team processing leave requests should be aware of all corporate policies about FMLA management, including knowledge of the regulations, documentation needed for record-keeping, and employee communication. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is having various employees handle and interpret FMLA differently. These problems can be reduced by having clear policies for how your business will take FMLA and providing ongoing training.

Obtain a medical certificate from the healthcare professional to verify the need for the leave

Demanding that the medical certification form to fill out completely is one of the best strategies to prevent employee exploitation of the FMLA. Employers are allowed to ask this under FMLA legislation, as well as additional information if the first round of detail is insufficient or unclear, and even second or third medical opinions (at the employer’s expense). Reports on the employee’s condition and anticipated return date are also permitted. Employers must provide workers with at least 15 days to receive the required medical documentation and give it to the company. Many businesses disregard those 15 days and designate FMLA to leave without supporting medical information.

Keep detailed records

Every encounter, including phone calls made to the employee while on vacation, must be recorded verbally or by entering the information into a secure central database. To avoid misunderstandings about what the policies cover or what information has been shared with the employee, it is ideal for policy material and questions and answers to be sent to both the employer and the employee via email.

Inform the management

Supervisors must be aware of their responsibilities when an employee requests a leave of absence. The manager should be able to explain to the employee their rights under the FMLA because, in some circumstances, such as with an accident, the leave could be taken quite suddenly. Companies should also consider “just-in-time knowledge,” whereby benefits managers communicate to the employee’s supervisor any pertinent, must-know information about FMLA as soon as the employee asks for FMLA. Although some businesses prefer that human resources manage all communications with employees, a supervisor getting in touch with an employee can have a lot of advantages. It demonstrates that the manager is concerned about the worker and their circumstance, giving the worker confidence to return to work and do so as soon as possible.

Summary

A good FMLA policy is essential for any business looking to protect its interests and employees’ well-being. Moreover, supervisors must be adequately informed and know to help their employees in case they need to take a leave of absence, as well as the right attitude towards it. Lastly, providing helpful information to both the employer and employee regarding FMLA policies is essential.

Vikrant Shetty

May 8, 2023

11:09 am

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