Top 10 Employer FMLA Mistakes

By hrlineup | 27.01.2021

Unfortunately, employers don’t have the luxury of taking a holiday from dealing with the FMLA requirements. Legal experts warn that the law is laden with traps that can catch an employer is they are not keen. As such, they recommend that they put their best foot forward to ensure that they are FMLA compliant by avoiding the following common employer FMLA mistakes.

1.    Not Meeting Employer Obligations

There are lots of technical obligations employers need to meet. Unfortunately, even a simple mistake could lead to legal liability. Luckily, some of the mistakes are easy to meet including:

  • Posting an FMLA poster at every office
  • Advising the employees in writing whether the FMLA leave request has been denied or approved.
  • Tracking FMLA usage and advising the employees on the leave time remaining

2.    Failure to include all hours worked during calculations of FMLA eligibility

An employee’s worksheet forms the basis of determining their FMLA eligibility. Some of the key figures that should be factored in during the calculations include break time and overtime hours.

3.    Failure to recognize an employee’s leave request

Bear in mind that FMLA leaves aren’t only for medical emergencies. If you need extra information on whether your employee needs a leave or not, approach them and ask. However, even a general report on anything that might point to a serious problem is enough to qualify for FMLA.

4.    Not allowing an employee to hand in certification

Every employee has 15 days after requesting for leave to submit relevant certificates from their doctor. When requesting the certification, make it clear that there are consequences for not providing sufficient certificates.

5.    Using incorrect increments when calculating the FMLA used

According to the FMLA, an employer should calculate leave days using the least time increment and days worked. The increment can be in minutes, hours, days, or weeks. However, you are allowed to exclude days the employee wouldn’t have worked including holidays, weekends, and furloughs.

6.    Being inflexible with the notice procedures

Yes, you should have a procedure and timeline for filing for absence. However, there are instances where the FMLA leaves room for practicality. Because of this, in some situations, an employee can take leave even after giving their notice past the stipulated deadline.

7.    Criticizing an employee when they use their leave

This alone can qualify for an FMLA lawsuit. An employer who tells their employee that they are treading on thin ice or that they are making things hard for themselves by requesting the leave can be on the receiving end of an FMLA retaliation.

8.    Treating an employee with more strictness before or after their leave

FMLA legal advice cannot stress this enough. Any employer who subjects an employee to stricter supervision or starts getting low-performance reviews after their FMLA leave can be hit by an FMLA retaliation claim. All employees should be treated the same regardless of whether they take the leave or not.

9.    Insisting on time-bound goals to be met while on leave

When an employee takes an FMLA to leave you should adjust their goals reasonably. The fact that they are on leave means they cannot perform as before. Insisting that they do opens you up to FMLA claims.

10.    Punishing abuse without actual proof

Many employers complain that the intermittent FMLA leaves are unpredictable. While this might be true, not every minor mishap on certification points to FMLA abuse.

As an employer, you should pay attention to the FMLA dos and don’ts. Also, to reduce the chances of abuse, you should always get medical clarification, verification of the certification.