Why Your Managers Need to be Properly Trained on the FMLA
According to a 2007 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly two-thirds of HR professionals have experienced problems determining when to grant “chronic leave” under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), leading to employee morale issues and loss of productivity.
While dated, the survey highlights confusion surrounding FMLA regulations that is still prevalent. It underlines the need for clearer rules within the Act while making it imperative that employers provide efficient and accurate training for managers enforcing these regulations.
The FMLA states that “any employer” who interferes with or denies any rights provided to an employee under the Act is liable for damages. In the 2011 case of Hurley v. Kent of Naples, Kent Securities incurred a loss of $1.26 million in damages because of a manager’s ignorance of FMLA regulations. As with the SHRM survey, it is clear that there are misgivings faced by management when enforcing FMLA rules. This, however, only speaks to the ever-growing importance of properly training managerial ranks.
As Jeffrey S. Nowak states in his review of this problem: “Managers on the front lines are not recognizing when an employee’s absence could be covered by the FMLA, and their managers are not communicating this information to those responsible for leave management. Their ignorance, in turn, is creating tremendous risk for the employer.”
Nowak brings his point to a close with some key tips, three of which we see as most important:
- Educate managers on FMLA and what the law protects.
- Prepare your budget with an adequate amount of FMLA/ADA manager training.
- Provide the skills and techniques to properly manage an employee with a medical condition.
It is easy for managers to misstep given the numerous employment and workplace law regulations they must adhere to. The best help employers can provide is adequate annual training on relevant issues (as well as shorter refreshers) and the resources to assist them when questions arise.