Sterling’s FMLA Pitfall List

As a rule of thumb, Thumper was always told and practiced the mantra of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Sterling’s FMLA Pitfall List: Ways that HR teams fail when dealing with FMLA procedures and how to tastefully deal with employees on FMLA leave.

Pop culture and childhood movies can lend simple but profound lessons when it comes to tastefully dealing with employees while they are on FMLA leave and once they return from FMLA leave. On the pop culture side of the coin, HR team members and department heads should look to familiar popular TV shows of past decades like 1,000 Ways to Die. This show always focused on the theme of how everyday life was filled with seemingly innocuous pitfalls that could leave the average mortal pedestrian towards death’s door. Underpinning and in combination with the 1,000 Ways to Die would be the most famous phrase from Thumper in the Disney Movie Bambi.

Your HR department needs to keep the lesson of 1,000 Ways to Die in the sense that there are a multitude of ways to make mistakes while employees are asking for, taking, or returning from FMLA. Your HR team and company personnel should also keep “The Thumper Rule,” at the top of mind when tastefully dealing with the sensitive and intimate nature of employees taking FMLA leave.

FMLA Pitfall Number One: Exposing the Medical Reason for an Employee’s Leave to the Rest of the Team

This is where “The Thumper Rule,” comes into play. Believe it or not: many managers, even in today’s highly regulated and litigiously minded workplace, reveal the medical reasons for one of their employees taking leave. Over the years, there have been many circumstances of managers blabbing the medical reason for a fellow employee taking leave during general meetings. Unbelievably, some managers make light of or joke about the medical condition of a team member while they are on FMLA
leave.

FMLA Pitfall Number Two: Bothering an Employee while on FMLA leave and treating them as if they are on Part Time.

Even though technically, it is alright to contact an employee while they are on FMLA leave, it is in poor taste and counterproductive to treat them as a part-time employee while they are on leave, asking them to do knowledge transfers while they are excused and out or bothering them about open business. As a broad and general rule: employees on sick leave should be left alone and be allowed to heal at home.

FMLA Pitfall Number Three: Reacts inappropriately to an employee’s request for FMLA leave.

When an employee asks for medical leave, an employer should react positively toward their requests. Rather than being rude, they should be more empathetic towards their employee’s leave requests and understand why they need leave and if they are in any critical situations. By understanding the criticality behind the leave, an employer should always try to accommodate leave requests in the best possible manner. Be a manager who will be more empathetic and sympathetic towards their employees and understand their circumstances well.

All in all, if your organization would like to stay out of the deadly path of being sued or labeled a toxic place to work that doesn’t follow FMLA leave procedures – feel free to contact Sterling and its team of experienced staff! Sterling not only helps with FMLA paperwork. The customer service staff can advise you and your HR team on FMLA-related procedures to handle your employees’ sensitive medical information and needs.