Curbing FMLA Abuse

HR Resource
August 9, 2013 — 2,839 views  
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The FMLA act or Family and Medical Leave Act gives employees a right to seek leave on grounds of being unwell personally or for taking care of family members. This is an unpaid time off, and can be asked for even in the absence of sick or vacation leave. However, several times employees abuse this leave by faking illness and making use of this time to take a break from work.

Rolling Period and Utilizing Paid Time Off

Several measures can be taken to ensure that this Act is not abused. FMLA abuse can be avoided by calculating the total number of family and medical leaves an employee has taken on a regular basis as against the current system of calculating them on an annual basis. By maintaining regular records of it, employers will be updated about which employees have used their leaves and cannot afford to take any more such leaves. This will help reduce chances of doubling the number of family and medical leaves.

Secondly, employees must be required to exhaust their sick days and vacation leaves before being allowed to use these leaves. By using their sick and vacation leaves first, it is likely that employees would be more careful in abusing these leaves the next time round. Most employees would like to save paid sick leave and vacation leave for times of emergency, therefore this move would curb the use of unnecessary leaves.

Medical Certifications and Notice Periods

Employees must be encouraged to submit medical certificates for family and medical leaves taken within 15 days after returning to work. If there is a delay in submission of the certificates, the employer could take action, provided the consequences were clearly stated out to all employees in advance. If required, the employer could also get in touch with the physician to understand the authenticity of the certificate. This has to be done once the employer has provided the employee with a written notice of deficiency of the certificate. The employee is then given 7 days to make amends for the same.

Family and medical leaves could also be planned in advance, and employers could encourage employees to do the same. This would help pre-plan the leaves and the organization would be in a better position to handle workload as well as curb abuse of this kind of leave.

Other Considerations

Employees could be encouraged to seek medical help around work schedules, before and after work timings. Employees could also be encouraged to call when on leave, before the work shift starts. Policies for termination from work due to taking an off without prior information for a certain number of days could be framed. This policy would make employees more responsible about their absenteeism.

If any employee’s family and medical leave interferes with his or her work, he or she could be reassigned to another position until the leave gets over. In this way the work too wouldn’t suffer.

There could be questions about the authenticity of the medical certificate an employee provides after a leave. This could be checked by a few more people for a second or third opinion to remove any bias and ensure fair action is taken for the case at hand.

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