As an employer, you have likely heard every excuse in the book. Some of them are plausible, and some of them are outright outlandish. When it comes to FMLA, though, many of the reasons given tend towards the latter. It is not uncommon for employees to abuse the privileges afforded by FMLA and then seek retribution when faced with disciplinary action.
Every employer should be aware of the of the various ways in which workers might try to abuse FMLA. If you suspect one of your employees has already done so, consulting with an experienced employment law attorney is the best way to avoid an expensive and inconvenient litigation battle. Following are the three most prevalent forms of FMLA abuse:
Using as vacation time
Have you ever had to deny an employee’s request for vacation time? What if that same employee then claimed an illness and took off work for the same period of time? You would be rightfully concerned. This is a common form of FMLA abuse. If the employee provides a doctor’s note, it is worth it to try to verify the information. By doing so, you might find out it is less than legitimate.
Excusing an absence
Nearly every person has slept through an alarm, forgotten about a scheduled shift or simply decided not to attend work. When an employee is absent and then attempts to invoke FMLA as an excuse, things get a little more complicated. This is, of course, an abuse of the affordances FMLA provides, so you should do your due diligence to ensure the given reason is verifiable.
In some cases, an employee who has already received disciplinary action might try to take FMLA to delay eventual termination. Alternatively, an employee might use FMLA to avoid undergoing disciplinary action in the first place. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, deceptive workers may try to do either of these things. Be wary of underperforming workers whose FMLA requests seem strategic.