FMLA abuse and the balance sheet impact

by on February 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

New data shows FMLA leave and FMLA abuse are up 150% in some cases

Current estimates peg the cost of FMLA abuse to U.S. businesses: in terms of lost productivity, benefits continuity and employee replacement, at $21 billion in 2004.

According to a recent study by the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), lost productivity alone totals $4.8 billion in profit. The tab for continuing group health benefits was $5.8bn and for replacement workers (overtime and temps) $10.3bn.

The biggest profit drain from FMLA abuse is intermittent FMLA leave, up 150% in the EPF study, compared with a similar 2000 Department of Labor study.

On average, 14.5% of employees took FMLA medical or maternity leave last year, but that number spikes much higher in certain industries like healthcare and transportation.

Nearly 50% of all FMLA leave takers do not give notice prior to the very day they take leave, says the study. And 30% provide notice only after the leave has started. Only 35% of those taking leave actually gave advance notice of a week or more.

It’s clear from this survey that you can get a high payoff from having HR spell out notice requirements, and get tougher about enforcing them.

Companies can insist on reasonable notice before granting FMLA leave, except in emergencies. Further, an employee must make a “good faith effort” to get treatment during off hours.

Another way to put the kibosh on FMLA abuse is to have HR insist on detailed medical certification, not just “a note from the doctor.” That certification should spell out the number of treatments, dates and recovery period.

Note: You can require recertification (at the employee’s expense) every 30 days – or more often if you have reason to suspect FMLA abuse.


Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.