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Father Baby Bonding under the FMLA

We have a male employee who is currently on FMLA leave for 12 weeks for bonding with a newborn baby. His FMLA was started and coincides directly with a promotional examination study period. He has postings on social media and sent emails to his coworkers stating he is using the time off under FMLA to spend the day at the library studying for the promotional examination. This has an obvious negative impact on his coworkers who, because of minimum staffing requirements cannot take off to prepare for the promotional test. Is there any requirement that the time off during duty hours actually be spent with or in direct support of the child and is the employee still subject to the employing agency’s policies? Established policy is any employee using Sick Leave be at their residence during their duty hours unless they are seeking medical treatment.

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave for qualified family and medical reasons, including the birth of a child and to bond with a newborn.

An employee’s entitlement to leave for baby bonding begins when the baby is born and expires 12 months after the date of birth. Bonding leave must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave.

Employers may not restrict an employee’s activities while on FMLA leave. The protections of FMLA will not, however, cover situations where the reason for leave no longer exists, where the employee has not provided required notices or certifications, or where the employee has misrepresented the reason for leave. Though the purpose of bonding leave is to care for and spend time with the newborn, the FMLA doesn’t require the employee to spend every waking minute doing so. So, the employee in question is able to study for an exam while on leave without facing repercussions for doing so.

Employers are permitted to establish policies regarding outside employment while on paid or unpaid leave as long as such policies are uniformly applied to employees on FMLA leave. Further, employees on FMLA leave are expected to adhere to their employer’s policies; however, as previously mentioned, a policy that prohibits an employee’s activities while on FMLA leave is not permitted.

Also, when an employee is unable to work due to the flu or a temporary disability, it doesn’t mean their unable to tend to basic personal activities like food shopping. Adopting a policy that prohibits employees on sick leave from leaving their homes unless for medical treatment is overreaching. If there is concern over abusing sick or FMLA leave, then appropriate steps to prevent abuse should be taken such as requiring medical certifications within the confines of applicable laws.




This entry was posted on Monday, August 29th, 2016 at 1:03 pm and is filed under
Workplace Management.
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