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How Do You Stop an Employee from Abusing FMLA?

As an employer, you want the best for your employees. It is necessary to ensure that they have the time off work they need for important matters. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with the right to take time off work without having to worry about their job or a lapse in health insurance coverage. While the FMLA is generally a good thing, some employers worry that employees could take advantage of the law.

Employers should put some simple yet effective practices into place that will help to ensure that employees are not abusing the FMLA. Here are some tips you can use to reduce the likelihood that your employees will improperly request FMLA.

Require FMLA Requests in Writing

Employers should put an internal process in place for employees to request FMLA. The first thing to do is require your employees to submit a written FMLA request. This will require employees to provide a reason upfront for their request for leave. An employee will be less likely to fabricate a request when they realize that they must give you the reason immediately.

Verify the Reason Qualifies

When an employee requests family leave time, you will want to verify the reason for their request. Only certain reasons qualify for employees to take family leave under the FMLA. Review the FMLA qualifying reasons to learn more. The birth or adoption of a child, a serious health condition, and caring for a family member with a serious health condition are several reasons that would qualify for family leave.

Require Medical Certification

Medical certification is probably the single most useful thing you can do to prevent FMLA abuse. A medical certification allows you to validate the reason for the leave and ensure that it meets FMLA guidelines. It is also important to recertify periodically to ensure that the medical reason remains valid. This will keep employees from taking more leave time than they should.

Institute a Call-In Policy

If you do not already have one in place, institute a policy that requires all employees to call in if they will be absent. Establish a process for employees to call in for every absence. The employee should provide a reason for the absence. HR or a manager should validate the request and determine whether it should be covered under the FMLA. Encourage a 30-day leave request policy. This will allow employers to make adequate arrangements for time off while making sure the employee is being forthright about their FMLA needs.

Put a Company Leave of Absence Policy in Place

A leave of absence policy helps protect employers from FMLA abuse. Employees can request a leave of absence for reasons other than those covered under FMLA. As an employer, you can create a policy that works best for your company. If an employee does not qualify for FMLA, you may be able to provide time off under your own policy. This offers you a better way to cover extended absences.

Employee policies are the best way to prevent problems in the workplace. To learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or

Published February 6, 2023
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