Seriously? – Managing FMLA Abuse

August 6, 2018

1% = A Bad Investment

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. OK, so maybe a little deep for the opening of an FMLA blog but trust me, this is an important perspective. Let’s first state the obvious. Your resources are not endless. You are working with what you have to meet the needs of the majority and provide a program that keeps your employees cared for in the best possible way. You have a lot of great employees. You have abusers. There, I said it. You and I both know that there are employees in your organization that are taking advantage of the system. Let’s focus on creating a system that best supports the organization, creates an efficient and effective process, and put your energy into finding ways to foster the 99% great employees. Using your limited resources to catch the 1% is a futile effort.

The Basics: Everybody has rights and responsibilities

  • Review your current process. Be honest in assessing how much effort is spent on the brat pack.
  • Communicate your process in a way that is clear to 100% of the organization. Include some non-experts in a feedback circle.
  • Create a system that can be managed consistently. If employees are being treated differently because the policy is vague, this is an opportunity to tighten the reigns on the potential abuse.
  • Ensure your management understands the critical nature of their role and give them the tools to carry out those responsibilities.

The Ya, but: Remind everybody of those responsibilities and the rights

  • If you are requesting a ton of recertifications and / or second opinions, how many of those are preceded by open dialogue with the employee first? Ensuring an employee feels supported develops a relationship that generally results in less abuse.
  • Out dated documentation or material that only makes sense to the Benefits Team is not effective. This results in employees who are frustrated and feeling like in their darkest hours, you’re just obsessing about what works for you.
  • Identify tasks in the chain that are being done because that is how we have always done it, but possibly not necessary or a value added process.
  • Providing the necessary support and tools to all players will actually reduce your workload because there will be fewer questions, more absences processed correctly the first time, and better morale for those who no longer feel like they are being made to jump through unnecessary hoops.

Yes, seriously, approaching things with a ‘glass half full’ attitude will make a difference to your program. Spend your very valuable time on creating an environment where employees understand the process and know that they are supported in times of need. The fruits of that labor will be more loyal employees who are more likely to come to you and communicate when they are struggling, rather than try to skirt the system. Occasionally when you do suspect abuse, open the lines of communication even wider, rather than trying to catch them in the act. You don’t have the money or the energy to hire Magnum P.I. for every short-term disability claim who could have come back to work 3 days earlier than they did right?!

Moral of the story — Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between!