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FMLA WWYD challenge May 2023 answer!

At the end of May, we posed a scenario and asked what you would do in that scenario. You had a few weeks to provide your response and your answers are in.

To recap, here was the scenario:

Jo Employee had a baby boy about six weeks ago, and she has recovered nicely. She would like to take more time off to bond with her baby, but also return to work. She wants, therefore, to work only three days per week. Sully, Jo’s supervisor, tells Jo that he would prefer that Jo either stay out for full weeks or return to work at full weeks, not work only three days per week. Such scheduling creates challenges.

Jo indicates that she will ask the company leave administrator (you) about this.

Therefore, Jo is now in your office asking whether she may take the rest of her FMLA leave (about six weeks’ worth) on a reduced schedule basis, working only three days per week. The six weeks’ worth of leave would last for months.

Choices

You had the following options from which to choose what you thought was the BEST answer based on the FMLA regulations:

  1. Approve Jo’s request because the FMLA entitles employees to reduced schedule leave for bonding.
  2. Approve Jo’s request because Jo is your close personal friend.
  3. Tell Jo that you will need to work with Sully to determine if a reduced schedule leave is agreeable, given the particular situation.
  4. Deny Jo’s request because the FMLA prohibits employees from taking leave on a reduced schedule basis for bonding.

Most of you (67 percent) chose answer #3, while 33 percent of you chose #4. No one chose #1 or #2. Good job!

And the answer is…

The best answer was #3, and here’s why:

Employees may use FMLA leave for birth, placement, and bonding intermittently or to work a reduced schedule but only if they and their employer agree.

Remember that pregnancy, delivery, and recovery are all serious health conditions. If employees need intermittent or reduced schedule leave due to these medical conditions, they are entitled to it. The certification should indicate this.

When employees are bonding with a healthy child, however, no one has a serious health condition, so no certification may be requested and, therefore, an intermittent or reduced schedule would be up to employer and employee agreement.

Reference: 29 CFR 825.202(c)

Answer #1 is incorrect because employees are not automatically entitled to bonding leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis.

Answer #2 is incorrect because employment-related decisions should not be based on personal relationships.

Answer #4 is incorrect because the FMLA does not specifically prohibit employees from taking bonding leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis.

Notes:

  • It is best to include this information in your FMLA policy and to apply the policy equally and fairly to all employees. If your policy indicates that employees may not take FMLA bonding leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule, you could tell Jo that, based on company policy, she is not entitled to FMLA bonding leave on a reduced schedule basis.
    • The FMLA does not specifically require this to be included in a policy, but courts like it when employees are informed so they know what to expect.
  • Preferably, Jo should request the reduced schedule leave before the leave began, so you and she could work on the agreement.
    • Again, knowing what to expect beforehand is always good.

Talk to you soon with our next WWYD challenge! We hope you enjoyed this little adventure and maybe learned a tip or two.

If you have an idea for a WWYD challenge, please let us know using the same email for submitting answers: FMLAManagerfeedback@jjkeller.com.