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Looking at FMLA rights through an employer's eyes

Everyone who works for a living in Milwaukee understands that employees and employers are going to have diverging points of view on a number of topics. Company owners and workers often have different ideas of what's appropriate in matters such as pay, vacation time, workplace attire and more.

It can be helpful for the two sides to occasionally look at life from the other's point of view. Let's give that a try with a quick examination of an article from Benefitspro.com (a publication devoted to employee benefits managers) about Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits.

The Benefitspro article hopes to steer employers away from behaviors and policies that not only step on employees' FMLA rights ─ and even worse, from an employer's perspective ─ can lead to lawsuits and courtroom losses.

One of the assumptions employers should abandon, the publication advises, is that FMLA applies only to work-related conditions. "Some employers believe employees may only exercise FMLA rights if they are hurt on the job," Benefitspro states.

Those employers are mistaken. FMLA rights include leave for any "serious health condition." The Department of Labor has on its website an extensive explanation of what the term means, but the gist is that it refers to any "illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition" involving ongoing treatment, inpatient care or incapacity that requires an absence from work of more than three days.

It simply does not matter where or how an injury occurred or an illness was contracted.

Benefitspro also urges employers to avoid second-guessing fitness-for-duty certifications and to restrain themselves from requiring that those certifications come only from medical doctors.

Also on the do-not-do list: do not require workers to return to their jobs without restrictions.

When a Milwaukee employer denies you your FMLA benefits, you can fight for your rights with the help of an employment law attorney experienced in Family and Medical Leave Act litigation.

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