2022 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

August 30 - September 1, 2022 | 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily | Virtual

Day 1 - Beyond the Basics: Conquering Complex FMLA Challenges from the Beginning

August 30, 2022
12:00 p.m.–12:05 p.m.
Speaker Introduction
12:05 p.m. – 1:05 p.m.
Correct Calculation: Strategies for Counting and Tracking in Advanced FMLA Situations

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a complex legal beast. Even the most seasoned of employers and Human Resources professionals can become ensnared in the maze of federal and state FMLA rules and regulations. But calculating and tracking employee leave under the FMLA isn’t as simple as keeping an attendance record. The math can get complicated! Having 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 will set the foundation for our program. We will provide a helpful road map for navigating complex and advanced FMLA situations you may encounter. We will 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 FMLA landscape. Some areas we will cover include:

• A brief overview/review of FMLA basic requirements;
• Advance notice you can legally require before honoring leave requests in certain instances;
• Policies and procedures your organization MUST have in order to track leave accurately;
• How to calculate and manage regular and intermittent FMLA leave taken by employees who routinely work a flexible schedule, part-time, or overtime; and
• The hazards of failing to track all FMLA leave and how to prevent them.

Wrap up the session and get your questions answered in real time, as our expert speakers conclude the session before heading into a break. Recap the steps for calculating leave, inquire about your organization's leave policies, and more; this short time is designed to make sure you leave this segment with no questions unasked!

1:05 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
Cautious Communication: Working with Employees, Physicians, and Others During the FMLA Process

An increase in FMLA-related lawsuits and an increase in the number of FMLA leave requests due to more public awareness of the law has created a compliance nightmare for employers. The multiple federal and state FMLA laws have created confusion about what law applies at what time and how previous laws interact with new laws.

Whether the serious health 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. While the regulations do provide some assistance, it’s important to understand just how critical the initial medical certification/recertification process is for employers. Understanding your right to request certification/recertification—and to delay or deny leave when it is incomplete or insufficient—is an empowering tool in your leave toolbox. This session will cover the latest updates concerning the impact communication (before, during, and after FMLA leave) can have on:

• Your FMLA leave policy with employees—and having a policy readily available—and why it’s so important;
• The importance of proper FMLA-related correspondence;
• Notifying an employee with the amount of FMLA leave that will be permitted;
• Giving notice if the employee is or is not eligible for FMLA leave;
• Communicating with your employees and determining what you can ask for in terms of updates, how often you can ask, and how to maintain good relationships even when asking probing questions;
• The correct way to resolve any disputes between you and an employee seeking leave; and
• Why training employees in FMLA compliance is essential—and pointers on how to ensure that managers know the proper steps to take to respond to requests, returns to work, etc.

Day 2

August 31, 2022
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The Proper Way to Certify or Recertify FMLA Leave

It seems simple enough, but the FMLA certification and recertification process isn’t always cut and dry. And although obtaining the necessary information to complete the proper leave forms can sometimes seem daunting, taking the time to do so can only benefit your organization. In this part of the session, you’ll learn:

• How to ensure that you’re following certification/recertification guidelines within the proper timeframe;
• How to calculate an employee’s absences before he or she provided notice of need for leave (or before certification);
• What to do when a medical certification/recertification is incomplete or unclear;
• When you should or should not contact an employee’s physician and the legal dangers when calling an employee’s physician;
• Your options when an employee or physician doesn’t cooperate with obtaining the required certifications;
• When requiring certification/recertification of an employee's serious health condition is considered "on a reasonable basis;”
• The general “do's and don’ts” of return-to-work certifications; and
• When it’s reasonably safe to deny leave based on the medical certification that has been provided.

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Watch Out: Recognizing, Combating, and Preventing FMLA Abuse

Responding appropriately to FMLA leave requests while keeping your organization running smoothly can certainly seem like a daunting task. To minimize disruption in your workplace, you've got to know how to detect and deal with employees who abuse FMLA. Stopping leave abuse requires an understanding of what you can and cannot do under the law. And while walking this compliance tightrope raises many questions, one thing is clear—no employer should be afraid to hold employees accountable for their actions for fear of legal entanglements, especially since FMLA rules and regulations set forth the right to limit FMLA abuse.

Sometimes the writing is on the wall, like Monday/Friday absences and midday doctor’s appointments. Some abuse may be more subtle, but regardless of what the employee is doing to work the system, the question is—what can you legally do about it? This session covers:

• How to identify and investigate when an employee misuses or abuses FMLA leave;
• Attendance policy essentials for taking disciplinary action against workers who don't provide adequate documentation for repeated absences;
• How to identify tampering on certification forms;
• When you should investigate suspected abuse of intermittent/reduced schedule leave using social media;
• How far you can go to catch an FMLA abuser in the act—and what you need to consider before conducting surveillance of an employee; and
• How to prevent retaliation or leave interference claims when investigating FMLA abuse.

Have lingering questions about points raised during the first day of this intensive Advanced 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 attorneys before you wrap up for the day.

Day 3—Intensive Workshop Addressing the Real-Life Application of FMLA Rules, DOL Regulations, and Court Rulings

September 1, 2022
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
FMLA Musts: Mastering the Tough FMLA Issues

If dealing with the FMLA was simple, employers and Human Resources professionals across the country would have mastered FMLA compliance long ago. 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)?

The key to avoiding liability and mastering the toughest FMLA issues is to notify employees of their rights, determine if a serious health condition exists, and then designate the leave as FMLA leave, as appropriate. This session will help you learn:

• How to conduct a comprehensive, effective FMLA self-audit that addresses FMLA recordkeeping, training, leave procedures, and more;
• What to do if an employee refuses FMLA designation;
• How to manage intermittent and reduced-schedule leave;
• When employees can fall in and out of FMLA protection based on their use of leave;
• How much leave an employee is entitled to take when he or she has multiple FMLA-qualifying events at the same time; and
• When and how to terminate an employee who is on FMLA leave.

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

The FMLA is pretty 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. It can be a struggle for employers to figure out how to provide the leave guaranteed under federal and state laws without putting undue burdens on themselves.

Failing to recognize concurrent application of the FMLA and other laws opens you up to administrative complaints and lawsuits. You need to know when other laws create different (and sometimes additional) obligations—and how their requirements work in tandem with the FMLA. In this session we’ll cover:

• Similarities and critical differences between the FMLA, ADA, workers' compensation, and more;
• Common mistakes to avoid when coordinating FMLA leave and complying with additional leave laws;
• How to evaluate whether your FMLA forms are legally compliant with all federal and state regulations;
• How to coordinate state and federal leave when covered family members differ;
• When you can require employees to take FMLA leave concurrently with other types of leave; and
• Recent developments in federal and state leave laws, including paid sick leave, family leave, pregnancy accommodation, and other trends.

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