Abuse of Leave Tops FMLA Concerns

By Staff Report

Apr. 14, 2008

Suspected employee abuse of leave taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act is the No. 1 FMLA-related concern for employers, according to a survey.

Forty-two percent of the human resource professionals surveyed said the potential for or suspicion of abuse by employees causes “extreme difficulty” in administering intermittent FMLA leave. Among other top concerns cited, 38 percent reported inadequate notification prior to an absence and 28 percent reported difficulties tracking intermittent leave.

A total of 450 human resource professionals participated in the survey, which was conducted in February and March by WorldatWork, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based human resource association. The survey was conducted in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed changes to the FMLA regulations, which are expected to ease many administrative problems employers have faced in trying to comply with the 1993 law.

The FMLA requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in the year after the birth or adoption of a child; to care for a sick child, parent or spouse; or when an employee has a serious illness.

Survey respondents overwhelmingly support most of the DOL’s proposed FMLA changes.

Among the regulatory changes garnering the most support were: 72 percent of respondents strongly agree with requiring workers to notify employers in advance of taking non-emergency, foreseeable leaves; 61 percent strongly agree with requiring annual medical certification from employees when conditions last more than one year; and 60 percent strongly agree with requiring a fitness-for-duty certificate after return from intermittent leave to jobs that could endanger the employee or others, or that the worker may be unable to perform.

A full copy of the “FMLA Practices and Perspectives” survey will be available April 14 at

Filed by Sally Roberts of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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