How to Curb FMLA Abuses
(1 minute read)
Absenteeism has numerous associated costs to an employer. One report recorded the total percentage of payroll associated with lost productivity due to employee absences was as high as 6.2%. That’s roughly $310,000 per 100 employees.
While we can’t eradicate employee absenteeism, employers can certainly apply some best practices in curbing FMLA abuses and improving FMLA management. Here are a few considerations.
1. Spreadsheet leave management isn’t enough. In order to have leave abuses jump off of your computer screen, you need to be able to view leave-case data wholistically. This means having all of the data (entitlement balance, medical certifications, and administrator and supervisor notes) in a consolidated record for rapid review. If HR has to spend half a day consolidating all case evidence, identifying FMLA abusers will quickly get thrown onto the back-burner.
2. Request for a medical recertification as often as you legally are allowed. Employers can request for a medical recertification at the onset of the FMLA case, or at the annual renewal. Once an employer accepts the Primary Care Physician's (PCP) ruling, he or she cannot come back a month later and suddenly decide to get a second opinion.
However, the employer can contact the PCP if the employee starts to take leave outside of the parameters outlined in their medical certification form. For example, if the doctor says that the employee's condition will require them to take intermittent leave once a week, and they start consistently calling in for FMLA leave two or three days a week, the employer has the right to contact the doctor and confirm the original prescribed leave frequency. This creates the opportunity to uncover an FMLA abuse.
At that point, the PCP may confirm that the employee is possibly abusing their leave, or just update the medical certification to say "2-3 days a week." Based on counsel we've consulted, PCPs will just update the memo about half the time. Nonetheless, you've proactively created an opportunity to engage a potential FMLA abuser.
Related Blog: What to Look For in a FMLA Software
3. Adopt a leave management software system. With ever-changing and updating leave laws, FMLA software and outsourcing has grown in demand. Leave management software has proven results in reducing the impacts of employee absenteeism, such as excessive overtime and lost productivity.