Strange as it may seem, some of the better bonding experiences I’ve had with my internal business “partners” have revolved around FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act, 1993). For those unfamiliar with the Act, it’s a prime example of a great program that can be manipulated by an increasingly savvy employee base – in any regard, FMLA cases can be an absolute nightmare to manage. The scope of FMLA covers the following:
Pregnancy, prenatal complications, or the adoption/fostering of a child
- Chronic conditions — diabetes, epilepsy, etc
- Long-term conditions — Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, etc
- A condition that requires ongoing treatment — chemotherapy, dialysis, etc
The act grants 12 weeks of excused (job-protected) absences each year, should an employee obtain the proper medical documentation. The Leave can be continuous, intermittent, or include a reduced work schedule. When the employee returns to work, they must be permitted to return to the same position, or if unable to physically perform the job the employer must find a position of equal salary/bonus/benefits. The benefit begins again every 12-months. What’s not to like?
IT’s a complex and confusing employee protection mechanism, so much so that most employers out-source the management of the process. Truth is, most employees are terrified to manage the process, so they are only to happy to give the responsibility to an outside vendor. BIG MISTAKE.
While you may remove yourself from the headaches involved in the administration of the process, you are also absolving control of a process that is consistently abused by employees. Almost comical how many poor performing employees end up hiding in the comforting bosom of FMLA.
Human Resources must take advantage of any opportunity to add value to the organization – if you are currently outsourcing the administration of the process, I would highly encourage you to take the bull by the horns and become the SME in your department regarding FMLA. Believe me, not only will you be unchallenged in this endeavor (nobody understands FMLA!), but you will become a highly valued business consultant as your internal clients manage a process that scares and frustrates them to no end. I became a brother-in-arms with some of the tougher client groups, if only for the fact that we suffered through these battles together.