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Preventing FMLA abuse and disputes

As a Pittsburgh employer, you are required to provide your workers with certain benefits and protections. One of those benefits involves the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It was created to provide workers with unpaid time off to care for themselves and immediate family members in the event of serious illness and certain situations. 

While this benefit is a boon to many, some employees tend to abuse their FMLA benefits. It can be challenging for you to know which workers are misusing FMLA at your expense. Here are some ways you can continue to provide FMLA rights and benefits for your employees and prevent FMLA abuse and disputes

Eligibility is not automatic 

You have the right to dispute any employee's FMLA request that does not meet requirements. Some workers may have legitimate injuries or situations that may interfere with their ability to show up and perform their jobs properly. They may get creative with their requests because they believe their reasons qualify for FMLA, or because they are trying to misuse their benefits. 

FMLA disputes can lead to litigation, which is often a scenario and expense most employers want to avoid. However, not carefully reviewing and validating each FMLA request can lead to disputes that are better of resolved in court. Some workers who have had their requests denied end up suing their employers. 

Improve recordkeeping processes 

One challenge many employers encounter is maintaining compliance with FMLA’s recordkeeping standards. The requirements include: 

  •        Documentation of disputes, disagreements and actions taken to resolve them
  •        Having sufficient documentation on communications between supervisors and workers
  •        A detailed description of employee compensation, benefits and unpaid as well as paid amounts and redemption practices
  •        Easily accessible records available for inspection

There are additional requirements. When considering any FMLA request, be sure to review your policies for compliance with federal and state law regulations first. 

Keep your workers informed 

Sometimes, you may have employees who are not aware they are eligible to use their FMLA benefits. They may believe they must use up their PTO, sick leave and vacation time first. As an employer, you should never reinforce that belief. You can, however, encourage employees to coordinate their accrued PTO, workers’ comp or short-term disability benefits with their FMLA leave time.

FMLA may seem like it is designed specifically for workers, but employers can benefit from it, too. You can still fire, layoff and discipline employees who are on FMLA leave. Before you make any decisions regarding your workers and their FMLA benefits, consider speaking to an attorney who handles employer FMLA disputes for guidance to protect your company and reduce the risk of litigation.

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