So what’s all the talk about FMLA? (Family and Medical Leave Act)

The FMLA entitles eligible employees, employed by a “covered employer”, to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

Should I deny an employee request for a Doctor’s Appointment?

If an employee comes to you, requesting FMLA time off to investigate a “possible” serious illness, don’t be too quick to deny. A court ruling, Baucum v. Cabarus Eye Center, sided with the employee, stating that a doctor’s visit to obtain test results to determine whether a serious health condition exists can be covered by FMLA.

Baucum was faced with either having to cancel her doctor appointment to investigate mysterious growths on her cervix or be fired, as she had no PTO to withdraw from.  When Baucum requested FMLA leave her company denied it because she didn’t suffer from a qualifying “serious health condition.”  Their reasoning was that Baucum had not been previously incapacitated or sick for at least three consecutive calendar days, as FMLA rules require.

Baucum kept her appointment and was fired.  Therefore, she sued, saying she was entitled to use FMLA time for medical testing.  When the jury decided the case, Baucum prevailed.  The lesson here:  don’t be too quick to terminate an employee with a health condition.  Be certain to thoroughly review the case before coming to a decision.  And it’s always wise to consult legal advice when dealing with any type of medical issue. As with any aspect of business, you must find a balance between doing what’s right and ethical, doing what’s best for the business, taking good care of employees, and adhering to the law.

A full resource of information on FMLA can be found here: FMLA

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