How to Stop Family Medical Leave Act Abuse

The Family Medical Leave Act protects employees positions from termination in the event they have to take time off to care for a sick family member. According to FMLASource as much as 10.7% of the U.S. workforce is on FMLA leave at any given time. While countless employees have benefited from FMLA, others have taken advantage of the program for their own gain. FMLA fraud costs business million. Here’s how you can stop it.

Require proof

If an employee needs to use the FMLA then they should always be required to provide proof of the medical problem causing them to take leave. Workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA so it’s fair for companies to require employees provide adequate proof. Make sure you comply with state and federal regulations governing what medical records you legally can and can’t ask an employee to provide.

Familiarize employees on FMLA

Is enforcing the Family Medical Leave Act difficult? Not if you have a good team of informed employees. Supervisors being educated about FMLA will make abuse more difficult because the supervisors will know what to look for and how to respond. It will also save time since supervisors will be able to answer employee questions themselves. Keeping other employees informed about FMLA will clear up confusion about what is required for someone to go on leave. Consider training for employees on FMLA.

Take FMLA seriously

Creating an environment that appreciates the seriousness of FLMA will show employees the importance of treating the program with respect. Companies cannot allow FMLA to be treated as a way to get easy time off. Take potential FLMA abuse seriously. Report fraud to the proper authorities and investigate further as needed. It’s unfair to employees and the company when people take advantage of programs like FLMA. It makes it more difficult for honest employees to receive it and costs businesses millions of dollars.

Keep records organized

Kevin McCarthy from the Kalamazoo Human Resource Management Association said, “Many certifications for intermittent leave list the period of the need for the leave as ‘indefinite’ or ‘permanent.’ ..the employee will never have to ask for an extension of the intermittent leave. Unless the employer receives good infor­mation that the individual’s medical circumstances have changed significantly or that the need for an intermittent leave is no longer valid, the employee will never have to submit a recertification. In the types of abusive situations discussed above, this is a major problem…”

Employees may only ever file for FMLA once but will remain eligible for the benefits indefinitely. Employers must stay on top of who is and is not certified and for how long. Spread sheets can be particularly helpful for this task. Organizing all of your employees FMLA records into one place will make it easy to quickly identify who is eligible and for how long.