Employees may need to take time off from work for various reasons, including for their own medical situations or family emergencies. Federal and state leave laws require employers to provide employees with leave in certain situations.
If you are an FMLA-covered employer, you should always consider whether an employee who requires time off of work due to a work-related injury or illness is eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (and/or possibly leave under a state law).
Certain workers’ compensation (WC) leaves may also be covered under the FMLA. An employee’s FMLA leave may run concurrently with a WC absence when the injury is one that meets the criteria for a "serious health condition" under the FMLA (and the employee satisfies all other eligibility criteria).
Upon return from Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original position or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee is entitled to reinstatement even if he or she was replaced during the leave or if the employee’s position was restructured to accommodate his or her absence. However, there are circumstances under which reinstatement is not required.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) clearly states that when an employer knows that a worker taking leave qualifies for FMLA, it must designate the worker’s absence as FMLA leave.
Despite this requirement, some employers let employees choose whether to designate their leave as FMLA leave. Two recent court cases—Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms and Amstutz v. Liberty Center Board of Education—have highlighted why this approach could cause problems for your company.