It can be challenging to be the one in charge of managing intermittent FMLA leaves. Apart from making sure you meet the needs of your employees as efficiently as possible, you also have to figure out a way to achieve all that while minimizing fraud and abuse.
Follow these 7 tips for intermittent FMLA management.
Tip #1: Confirming eligibility.
The very first step to take before granting an employee FMLA leave is to determine whether or not they are eligible for it. Requirements for eligibility often consist of the following criteria:
- The employee must have been employed by the company for at least 12 months (1 year)
- The employee must have completed at least 1,250 hours of work for the company in those 12 months of employment
Furthermore, the employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of their company location. Otherwise, the FMLA can’t be applied.
Note: You should always inform your employees if they’re eligible for an FMLA leave, regardless of whether they’ve asked for it or not. This will help you avoid possible technical and legal issues in the long run e.g., illegally discharging employees for incurred absences that would have been covered by FMLA.
Tip #2: Require medical certification
Another tip to properly handle attendance management is to require medical certification from employees who request leave. Review medical certificates to ensure that they support the reasons for the leave that is being requested. Furthermore, verify with the physician who issues the certificate that the file is legitimate.
If an application is incomplete, unclear, or does adequately support the request for leave, an employer has the right to require further documentation or explanation from the employee.
Tip #3: Apply clear restrictions
Another great tip for intermittent FMLA management that an employer can take is to provide employees with detailed descriptions of what is legally allowable for intermittent FMLA leave. This is not to make the process more difficult for employees who need it; however, it is a way to mitigate employees from taking advantage of the benefit.
When you restrict the leave to only what’s allowed by law, there is better compliance and a lesser possibility of abuse.
Here are a few ways an employer can apply restrictions to FMLA leave applications:
- Require your employee to schedule their leave in advance and in a way that is less obtrusive to company productivity and flow.
- Brief employees on the smallest increment allowed for an FMLA leave.
- Deliberate over a temporary transfer of an employee to another department or position that would better accommodate the FMLA leave.
Tip #4: Train managers and supervisors
Office managers and supervisors are often the last people to review an FMLA leave application. In other words, they are a company’s last line of defense against FMLA abuse. This also means fewer FMLA leaves are granted to employees with less than satisfactory qualifications.
That said, make sure your managers and supervisors understand how the FMLA leave works. Furthermore, keep them informed on what certifications are required for leave to be approved.
Lastly, train them to be sensitive to fraudulent documents. If a piece of information or certification seems ambiguous, advise managers and supervisors to verify the document with the proper authority e.g., the issuing physician of a medical certificate.
Tip #5: Require recertification every 6 months or sooner
Employers can require their employee’s recertification every 6 months to verify if the grounds of said employee’s leave are still applicable to the employee’s situation to date. Employers can also ask for recertification sooner if the employee asks for an extension, the circumstances of the employee have changed, or if management has received suspicious information regarding an employee’s FMLA leave application.
Recertification can be required annually as well. If an employer chooses to do this, make sure the employee meets the 1,250-hour eligibility requirements every 12 months.
Tip #6: Consistently applying company policies
The easiest way to keep attendance management in line is to consistently apply company policies, not just with employees requesting FMLA leave, but for other employees who miss work as well. Making excuses for the little things is often what gives way to abuse of benefits and company privileges.
Tip #7: Track intermittent FMLA leaves usage
Which department in your company requires the most FMLA leaves? Does it involve a specific manager or supervisor? Or is it an employee issue? Sometimes there are signs that can’t often be spotted without further investigation.
If you suspect FMLA leave abuse in any of your offices, don’t ignore it or wait for someone else to oversee the issue. Make every effort to look into the details of the problem.
Employers have the right to investigate suspicious activities in their company. If you can’t do this personally, ask a trusted assistant or assistant to gather the necessary information for you.
Become a better manager
Being a great manager is more than keeping your employees happy — it’s making sure everyone gets what they need and deserve without putting company productivity at risk. The 7 tips for intermittent FMLA management that we’ve mentioned will help you keep your employees in line and prevent FMLA abuse from happening in your organization.