How to tell if an employee is ‘faking it’ while staying in FMLA guidelines
If you’ve dealt with FMLA abuse, you know some malingers treat intermittent FMLA leave like extra vacation time. Here’s how you use FMLA guidelines to stay one step ahead of chronic FMLA abuse:
1. Create a comprehensive FMLA form.
The FMLA form provided by the DOL just has doctors check off some boxes for medical certification.
But what most companies don’t know is: You can ask for more specific info under FMLA guidelines about the worker’s condition to determine whether they even need leave. The FMLA certification form could ask doctors:
- the date the condition started.
- estimated duration of the condition.
- definition of the worker’s condition.
- required treatment.
- whether hospitalization is required.
- whether the condition will incapacitate the worker.
2. Ask for a second opinion.
If a doctor says an employee has, say, a back condition, and you notice the employee seems to be fine, ask for a second or even third opinion to verify the diagnosis. Just keep in mind it’s at your expense but can deter FMLA abuse in the long run.
3. Ask for re-certifications.
You can do so every 30 days (at employee’s expense). A condition might not be deemed severe enough anymore after 30, 60, or 90 days.
4. Attach a letter to the certification along with the worker’s attendance record.
In the letter, ask the doctor whether the worker’s condition is incapacitating enough to warrant the days she was absent.
That’ll accomplish a couple of things:
- 1. The employee who’s milking the leave will get embarrassed and perhaps think twice about FMLA abuse.
2. The doctor might be more truthful in designating leave for the worker.
Based on Steven Teplinsky’s Audio Conference entitled: Stop Intermittent FMLA Leave Abuse Now, 5/24/06.
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