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Working While on Leave for FMLA? Don’t Make the DOL LOL!

Posted on: March 20th, 2014 | Category: Government Regulatory & Compliance Issues, Human Resources, Our Blog

FMLA and working from home

FMLA and working from home

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Make sure you understand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) before one of your employees uses it, or you could find yourself in a heap of trouble. The Department of Labor (DOL) does not take kindly to businesses that don’t comply.

But what about the occasional call with the on-leave employee at home? Frequently, an employee who is physically unable to come to work will perform some work for the employer from home. This has become more and more common as technological advances have made it easier for people to perform work and communicate with co-workers from any distance. But what happens when an employee out on FMLA leave gets a call from the office asking where a certain file is located or to answer a quick question on an account that was not quite closed before they left?

According to the blog FMLA Insights, employers worried about FMLA “interference” (the idea that the employer is denying the employee FMLA benefits to which he otherwise was entitled) are unlikely to run into trouble simply because he or she responds to an occasional call or e-mail related to the job while on leave. A few work-related communications will likely not constitute interference with an employee’s FMLA rights.

Still, you should be careful with communications to and from employees on FMLA. From the blog:

Tread carefully here, though.  If your employee is on FMLA leave and you learn that he or she is performing work (including regularly answering work-related e-mails and/or calls), the best course to reduce the risk of any FMLA (or FLSA) liability is to put an end to the work.

“Leave means leave, not work from home,” says Kelly Coblentz, PHR, myHR Partner’s Director of HR Services. “The DOL certainly doesn’t take FMLA lightly, and neither should you. Any time you’ve asked or allowed your employee to do work while on FMLA, at home or on-site, the time may be deducted from the 12 weeks of time they are entitled to by law. And don’t forget you may need to pay them too!”

Worried about FMLA and other compliance matters facing your company?

Beyond just FMLA, today’s managers have to be cautious to avoid violating laws and regulations of all different stripes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules and Department of Labor (DOL) statutes. Our team of HR experts assists clients with these tricky compliance issues every day. Email us, or call us at 610-443-0119 to discuss how myHR Partner’s myHR DirectLink Services can help your business.

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