Failure to Track FMLA Time Properly: The Fourth of Five Common FMLA Mistakes

For many workers, FMLA leave is a necessity, so it’s extremely important that their leave is tracked properly. Two areas employers often encounter difficulty in are calculating the amount of leave an employee is entitled to, and knowing which times can and cannot be counted as FMLA leave. Failure to track properly can be a detriment to both the worker and the employer, especially if a worker has cause to retaliate for a mishandling of their FMLA leave.

FMLA leave can be taken in periods of whole weeks, single days, hours, and sometimes even less than an hour. From the DOL website: “The employer must allow employees to use FMLA leave in the smallest increment of time the employer allows for the use of other forms of leave, as long as it is no more than one hour”. This wide variety of increments can cause many employers to stumble when administering leave.

When tracking, it’s also important to know whether to count certain spans of time as FMLA leave. Time that an employee isn’t scheduled to work (for instance, schools closing for winter or spring break, or a plant closing for a week to undergo maintenance) cannot be counted as FMLA leave. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently saw a case concerning an employer’s failure to track FMLA leave time properly. Cleon Jones, a former teacher’s assistant at a Chicago-area school district, claims that his former employer improperly tracked his FMLA leave by counting the week of spring break towards his allotted leave time. Jones was disciplined for not returning to work when his employer thought he was supposed to. The court ruled that Jones can proceed with pursuing his FMLA interference and retaliation claims.

BASIC offers FMLA services that prevent mistakes like these from occurring. Navigating the rules and regulations of something as complicated as the Family and Medical Leave Act can be difficult, and without outside help you run the risk of making mistakes that will have highly damaging repercussions. HR solutions should be simple. Keep it BASIC.

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