5 Common Mistakes Businesses Make With FMLA Requests — And When To Get A Lawyer
FMLA refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law that requires employers to provide their employees with unpaid leave for qualified medical or family reasons. Although the law provides many benefits to employees, there are a few common mistakes businesses make when dealing with FMLA requests. This can land you in hot water with the legal system, so it's important to abide by FMLA guidelines at all times. Review the five common mistakes businesses make with FMLA requests below so you know whether you may end up with an FMLA law case if you aren't careful.
1) Asking for Too Much Documentation
Health is a private matter, and many employees are hesitant to share too much about their conditions. Employers should not require employees to provide more documentation than necessary to prove their need for FMLA leave. A simple doctor's note is usually sufficient to justify a request for leave, and employers should not demand additional paperwork. That means it is unacceptable to ask for copies of lab reports, medical records, or other personal information.
2) Not Understanding the Eligibility Requirements for FMLA Leave
The FMLA law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, and the employee must have worked for the company for at least one year. Also, the employee must have racked up at least 1,250 hours on the clock during those 12 months. There are also restrictions on how much leave can be taken in a given year. If an employer does not understand the eligibility requirements, they may want to speak with a business attorney who understands FMLA case law guidelines.
3) Attempting to Negotiate Terms
The FMLA law is set by the US Department of Labor, so it's not up to employers or employees to negotiate terms. Employers who attempt to negotiate FMLA lengths, requests for paid leave instead of unpaid leave, or other details could find themselves in legal trouble. Play it safe and follow the official guidelines established by the federal government.
4) Spreading Private Medical Information
When a worker requests an FMLA leave, any information that has been disclosed to the employer about an employee's health should remain confidential. If there is any suspicion that protected medical information was shared, the employer could face an FMLA lawsuit.
5) Denying Leave Requests Without Reviewing Them First
If an employee meets the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave, employers must review and consider requests for leave. Employers can deny a request if the employee does not meet the eligibility requirements or if the request is incomplete. However, employers should never deny a leave request outright without first giving it consideration.
FMLA guidelines can be confusing for some companies. If you need help, reach out to a business attorney with experience handling FMLA law case evaluations.
Contact an FMLA lawyer, such as Allen D. Arnold Attorney at Law, to learn more.