2022 FMLA Virtual Master Class: Basic Skills for Employee Leave Management

July 21-22, 2022 | 12:00 PM – 4:00PM Eastern, daily | Virtual

Day 1 - Mastering FMLA Fundamentals

July 21, 2022
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. EST
FMLA Eligibility: Getting It Right

Establishing employee eligibility is the critical first step in administering FMLA leave, and it’s a step that’s easily overlooked in the flurry of notices and certifications that follow a request for leave. But confirming that employees are eligible to take requested leave in the first place sets the foundation for a fair and consistently applied leave program.

This topic will also serve as the foundation for our program, as we’ll use this introductory session to briefly assess your current knowledge of FMLA fundamentals. We’ll also highlight recent trends and developments affecting leave and discuss how to proactively adjust your policies and practices to ensure compliance with the ever-changing regulatory, legal, and practical landscape.

We’ll cover:

• A quick overview of FMLA basic requirements;
• How to determine FMLA eligibility quickly and easily;
• How the FMLA rules and related court decisions affect key definitions, such as who qualifies as a covered family member;
• How the FMLA is interpreted as allowing leave to employees to care for other family members suffering from a serious health condition; and
• A discussion of state-specific FMLA laws, which provide more job-protected leave and have lower thresholds for application; and
• Recent trends and developments affecting leave.

1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. EST
1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. EST
Managing Serious Health Conditions and Medical Certifications

At the heart of many FMLA leave requests is the serious health condition. Whether the condition is the employee’s own or that of a covered family member, employers will often need additional guidance to assess whether a condition qualifies for FMLA leave. In addition, there are many things you can do to award leave time correctly and prevent FMLA abuse. Understanding your rights to request certification—and to delay or deny leave when certification is incomplete or insufficient—is an empowering tool in your leave toolbox.

The DOL has proposed revisions to several model certification forms, which employers nationwide often use to administer FMLA leave. This session will cover the latest updates concerning the DOL’s proposed revisions and the practical impact this development could have on:

• WH-380E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee's Serious Health Condition; WH-380F Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition;
• WH-381 Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities; WH-382 Designation Notice;
• WH-384 Certification for Military Family Leave for Qualifying Exigency;
• WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Current Servicemember for Military Caregiver Leave; and
• WH-385V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave

We’ll also discuss the process of requesting recertification in compliance with FMLA requirements, as well as the steps you must take if you wish to require a medical release for return to work (aka fitness-for-duty certification).

You’ll learn:

• How to spot a serious health condition on the FMLA certification;
• Tips and guidance for “gray area” conditions, including multiple concurrent conditions;
• How to obtain additional information and how to verify when the initial medical certification is vague or incomplete;
• What to check when an employee wants leave to attend special education meetings for his or her child;
• Your options when an employee or doctor doesn’t cooperate with obtaining the required certifications;
• How to handle recertification requests;
• How to prepare a successful and practical return to work policy; and
• Return to work strategies that work, and strategies that can backfire.

2:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EST
Meeting FMLA Deadlines: Notification, Curbing Abuse, and Preventing Claims

The FMLA is ruled by deadlines for giving and receiving information, for measuring how much leave has been taken, and for determining how much leave employees have remaining in a given year. A good grasp of timing rules—and learning how to monitor other key areas of FMLA usage—can help you prevent abuse of FMLA entitlements and fend off litigation. This session covers:

• How to give the four kinds of FMLA notices;
• What to do if an employee refuses an FMLA designation;
• Selecting the best FMLA leave calendar year for your organization;
• What to do when vacations and/or holidays fall during an employee’s FMLA leave;
• Rules regarding “making up” FMLA leave;
• Handling suspected FMLA abuse without running afoul of the law;
• How to manage employee leave without risking claims of interference;
• How to legally discharge employees who are on or just returned from FMLA leave; and
• How to train supervisory staff to avoid asking questions or taking action that can spark liability.

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST
Q&A with Presenters

Have lingering questions about points raised during the first day of this intensive FMLA hypo-driven workshop, or want to revisit a fundamental concept or two from earlier in the day? Take advantage of this opportunity to get clarification from the presenting attorneys before you wrap up for the day.

Day 2 - Intensive Workshop Addressing the Real-Life Application of FMLA Rules, DOL Regulations, and Court Rulings

July 22, 2022
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. EST
Mastering the Tough FMLA Issues

It’s one thing to grasp individual FMLA rules, but it’s another thing entirely to put those pieces together in the real world. For example, intermittent leave seems pretty straightforward on paper, but how employers really manage it is another story. What about temporary light-duty positions and fluctuating work schedules? Reinstatement after leave? And finally, how do you handle an FMLA investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL)? This session will help you learn:

• What “intermittent” means and how the 12-week FMLA entitlement is calculated when an employee takes intermittent or reduced-schedule;
• How to handle leave duration;
• How to calculate leave for fluctuating work schedules;
• The rules regarding substitution of various types of paid leave for FMLA leave;
• When employees have job reinstatement rights and when they do not;
• How eligibility requirements are clarified for employees who are jointly employed;
• Tips on how to effectively manage an FMLA investigation by the DOL; and
• How to conduct a successful self-audit to ensure compliance with FMLA and its policies.

1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. EST
1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. EST
All Together Now: Coordinating FMLA with ADA, Workers’ Comp, and State Family Leave Laws

The FMLA appears comprehensive, but it’s not the only law that applies when employees need time off for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member, or for other reasons. You need to know when other laws create different obligations—and how their requirements work in tandem with the FMLA. In this session, we’ll cover:

• How the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) interact;
• How to balance your obligations under the FMLA, ADA, and other laws;
• When you should offer leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, including a discussion of ADA leave cases and agency guidance;
• How to offer accommodations other than leave without violating the FMLA;
• When you can require employees to take FMLA leave concurrently with workers’ comp leave; and
• Recent developments in state leave laws, including paid sick leave, family leave, pregnancy accommodation, and other trends.

2:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EST
Intensive Workshop: Applying Your Knowledge

During this highly interactive portion of the FMLA Master Class, your trainers, who are practicing labor and employment attorneys, will walk you through a series of scenarios demonstrating the real-life FMLA issues that stump even the most seasoned HR practitioners.

You’ll have the opportunity to discuss issues with your presenters and fellow attendees to determine the correct course of action to take based on the facts presented and your knowledge of fundamental FMLA compliance principles.

Recent court rulings, long-standing case law precedent, DOL interpretations, opinion letters, and regulations—as well as the trainers’ own experiences in advising clients—are interwoven into this engaging afternoon workshop, with the goal of providing you with actionable insights into the tricky FMLA issues that come up in daily work life.

You’ll dive deep into:

  1. Addressing issues with medical certifications and what to do when:

• Certification submitted by the employee is not sufficient
• The employee does not return the certification
• The employee refuses to update the certification if the need for leave changes
• The employee does not submit fitness-for-duty certification at the end of leave

  1. Intermittent leave:

• Certification of the need for intermittent leave
• Specific information on when leave is needed and the expected frequency and duration
• What to do if an employee uses more leave than expected
• What to do when an employee has a chronic case of "Monday-Friday absence-itis”

  1. Reduced-schedule leave:

• Certification and specific information on reduced hours and expected duration
• Updating certification
• Tracking leave time

  1. FMLA during holidays and shutdowns:

• How to “count” FMLA leave during holidays
• Administering FMLA leave during extended plant or office shutdowns
• Determining whether an employee on FMLA leave during holidays is entitled to holiday pay

  1. Addressing performance issues that arise before the request for leave:

• What to do when an employee requests FMLA leave in the midst of the disciplinary process or just before discipline or termination steps are taken
• Addressing performance issues that arise during intermittent or reduced-schedule leave
• Addressing performance issues discovered while an employee is on leave
• Reductions in force while the employee is on FMLA leave

  1. Return to work—what to do if an employee is:

• Not able to return to work at the end of leave (ADA considerations)
• Cleared to return to work with restrictions
• Temporarily unable to perform essential functions
• Unable to perform essential functions in the long term

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST
Q&A with Presenters

Still have questions about items covered during this intensive FMLA training, or want to revisit a key idea or two from earlier in the course? Use this time to get clarification from the presenters before the workshop ends.

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