Making the Family and Medical Leave Act work

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act has nuances that both Wisconsin employees and their supervisors need to understand in order to ensure the program works smoothly. A company’s human resources department generally approves an employee’s request for leave, but supervisors need to be aware of the act’s regulations, too.

Under the act, employees are entitled to up to three months of unpaid leave every year. They can take this leave in one chunk or at various times throughout the year. Before the employee goes on leave, they should talk about their return with their supervisor. The law requires leave-takers be allowed to return to their old job or an equivalent. Both need to discuss re-entry options on the off chance that the original job does not exist when the employee ends their leave.

Employees and supervisors also need to discuss what happens if there is an emergency at work while the employee is on leave. Both need to determine what constitutes a crisis, if the employee would be amenable to helping solve it and, if so, how, i.e., coming into the office or handling it with phone calls and emails. Supervisors should not pester the leave-taker unless the employee is vital to solving the problem.

Managers need to ensure their actions comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. If they do not, employees could file a claim against the company for interfering with this act. An employee who believes his or her rights have been violated while they are on medical leave may decide to seek legal counsel. An employment law attorney might be able to determine if the employee has a valid claim and then take steps to rectify the situation.


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