Tools for Managing FMLA Intermittent Leave – January 24, 2007

Many human resource professionals spend a good deal of time and energy trying to manage FMLA Intermittent Leave.

The following steps may be helpful to address situations of FMLA abuse:

  • Have a doctor certify all FMLA leave for medical reasons. You’re entitled to ask for a second or even a third opinion.
  • Use a form that asks the certifying doctor for complete information on the claimed condition, including schedule of dates and times for treatments, and minimum amount of time leave will be needed. The DOL provides a form for this purpose.
  • Have the employee recertify the condition every 30 days. This is at the worker’s expense and may be a useful deterrent to bogus leave claims.
  • Ask for a new certification for the claimed condition for each 12-month period.
  • Insist that the employee work with you in setting up a schedule that includes as many treatments as possible in off-work hours.
  • Transfer the employee to a position where absences are less disruptive. The law permits this, as long as pay and benefits remain equivalent to the previous job.
  • Look for obvious abuse patterns, such as the “Monday/Friday syndrome.” You are entitled to ask for recertification of a claimed medical problem if “the employer receives information that casts doubt on the stated reason for the leave”. A Monday/Friday absence pattern may be evidence to cast that doubt, so that you can bring it to the certifying doctor’s attention.