There are certainly benefits to growing your medical or dental business, but there are responsibilities, as an employer, that kick in as you grow your business, especially when you achieve milestones as to the number of employees you have. Employers with fifty or more employees have more labor regulations to be concerned with and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of them. It is not easy to manage this process which is full of regulations that you have to follow to the “T”. Here are five steps to help you eliminate the fraud and abuse and to manage the process more closely.
1. Make Training Managers and Supervisors a Priority
Training managers and supervisors about how the FMLA and your leave policies work should be your first step. Management are your eyes and ears, and employers depend upon them for information about potential FMLA abuse issues.
Providing even thirty minutes of training for management each year can be effective. At the very least, it will sensitize them to the importance of giving you a heads-up when potential problems arise.
2. Before Granting Leave, Check Eligibility
Once you have received a request for leave, an important rule in reducing abuse is to make sure the employee is actually eligible. Before assuming an employee is eligible for FMLA leave, take the time to run the eligibility traps. Sometimes employers find themselves first granting FMLA leave, only to later realize that the employee was not eligible.
3. Let Certification Work in Your Favor
Employers should consistently require certification—and recertification—of an employee’s serious health condition. The certification process can block or limit some questionable leaves, and simply requiring employees to go through the process lets them know you are not asleep at the wheel when dealing with FMLA absences.
To get the best results, attach the employee’s job description or a list of essential functions to the certification form so that the health care provider can accurately assess whether the employee is truly incapacitated from doing his or her specific job.
4. Demand Complete Medical Certs
Don’t settle for marginal medical certifications. Employers should require employees to provide satisfactory, detailed, and informative certifications as a condition of FMLA leave. If they don’t do so, follow up using all of the tools allowed you by the regulations—that is, require the employee to correct the certification, or use authentication and clarification, as allowed by FMLAs regulations.
5. Track Leave Use Carefully
Finally, throughout an employee’s absence, keep track of their use of FMLA leave and remind them from time to time how much leave they have used and how much they have remaining. Doing so can be particularly valuable when wrestling with intermittent leave. And don’t be afraid to seek recertification if you learn info raising questions about the stated use of the leave.
Additionally, your FMLA policy should be based on a “rolling” twelve-month period rather than a calendar year, otherwise you allow someone to take leave (up to twelve work weeks) towards the end of the calendar year and then they can request, up to twelve work weeks again, in the new year. Nothing like six months off and your employer HAS to hold your position, or a similar position, for you. Don’t let this happen to you. Plan accordingly.
FMLA hassles just won’t go away, will they? And, now, of course, there are all the new FMLA responsibilities—like military leave and reinstatement. Shell-shocked? It’s an almost overwhelming task to keep up with FMLA, let alone get in compliance with the far-reaching changes.