<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Can I Minimize FMLA Costs
January 22, 2003
Dear Caught: Your initial thoughts are pretty much on target and should assist yourorganization in minimizing the cost of FMLA. We do have some additionalrecommendations as well: If maintaining the right number of trained employees to cover an FMLA absenceis cost prohibitive, try cross-training your existing employee population. Ifone employee is out on FMLA, another employee or employees can easily take overtheir duties. Provide flexible work arrangements to your employees. For example, anemployee may want to work part-time rather than going out on an unpaid FMLAleave. This would enable you to have the expertise of that individual availableat least some of the time. Studies have shown that helping employees balancework/family obligations boosts their productivity. Centralize your FMLA processing. This will be cheaper to administer andensure consistency. Centralization will also ensure your organization is incompliance with the FMLA regulations. Count FMLA time according to the strictest interpretation the law allows. Ifyou are able to, count FMLA in the smallest increments allowed by your payroll.The more accurately the time is counted, the less likely you are to give awayadditional hours. Ensure each FMLA request is reviewed and approved by a medical professional,not only with regard to the employee's own illness, but also for the care of aspouse, parent or child. This will ensure that you are only granting time offfor FMLA-qualified conditions. Also keep in mind the employer has the right toget a second or third opinion, if there is any doubt that the condition is notserious enough to be covered under the law. The employer also may requestre-certification of the condition every 30 days for consecutive FMLA leave. SOURCE: Susan E. Leal, senior consultant, Human Resource Effectiveness, BuckConsultants, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, July 1, 2002. LEARN MORE: Read: HR Must Take Proactive Steps to Curb FMLAAbuse. The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.