An FMLA reminder: Employees who are doing light duty while recovering from a workers’ comp injury aren’t on FMLA leave and the time doesn’t count against their 12-week entitlement.

A federal appeals court, ruling recently on an FMLA case from Ohio, noted that employers could count light duty time against FMLA leave prior to 2008.

But the court also pointed out that, once the Labor Department published rules implementing the 2008 FMLA amendments, the situation was reversed.

No coercion
The law says you can ask employees who were injured at work if they want to perform light duty once their doctor says they can. But you can’t force them.

If they choose to do light duty, their FMLA right to restoration in their pre-injury job “is held in abeyance during the … light duty (or until the end of the applicable 12-month FMLA leave year),” as DOL notes in the relevant rule.

In other words, you can’t run someone’s 12 weeks of FMLA leave while they’re on voluntary light duty.

Cite: Hoff-Pierre v. University Hospital, No. 12-3384, 6th Cir., 6/12/13.

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