Thursday, December 22, 2011

FMLA Abuse and Transit Operations

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), while created with good intentions to protect employees who need it, has become a major expense for American companies as it is widely abused. 

FMLA especially is burdensome for Transit Operations.  In an office, if an employee is absent to due FMLA, the work is often put aside until the employee returns or possibly redistributed to other employees.  In transit operations, a driver absent on FMLA with short notice may translate to the driver's run not being covered, leaving service disrupted, hundreds of customers inconvenienced, loss of confidence in your agencies operation/reliability, and loss of morale of other drivers who now have to deal with the extra and likely angry late customers as a result.  If the run is covered, it is often covered on overtime, increasing operational costs.

Dealing FMLA abuse is like skating on thin ice.  Managers who aren't thoroughly familiar with the rules and take inappropriate action can be on the end of a lawsuit in a hurry.  Managers looking to increase availability via aggressively combating FMLA abuse and fraud should always consult with Labor Relations and HR staff to ensure their tactics are in-line with applicable laws and collective bargaining agreements.  While the government protects FMLA leave, it has recognized the problems of abuse.  Recent decisions have helped to curtail abuse such as upholding surveillance and terminations of suspected FMLA abusers. 

While not financially feasible, transit management can add "extra-board" operators to be on stand-by when they observe a cluster of FMLA drivers assigned in close proximity or observe a pattern of FMLA abuse on a particular day/time.  However, if the suspected abuser(s) don't call out FMLA on a day where an "extra-board" driver is standing by, the transit operator is now paying the extra-board person to basically sit around if no other work is available.

Dispatchers preparing next day assignments often do not have the luxury of knowing which employees have a high probability of calling out FMLA the next day. Software should be developed to automatically flag the likelihood of an FMLA absence based on available pattern/usage data and suggest the time of an extra-board assignment.

FMLA is also known as the "Friday-Monday Leave Act", due to employee abuse of linking their FMLA leave to their RDO's (Regular Days Off).

FMLA Poster from Department of Labor
FMLA Guidelines and Compliance information
Additional FMLA information
Code of Federal Regulations - Part 825 (FMLA)

Here are some useful links to help combat FMLA abuse.

12 Ways to curb FMLA Abuse
Minimizing FMLA Abuse
The FMLA and Pattern Abuse
FMLA Abuse: 4 Ways to fight back and not get sued
10 Ways to stop FMLA Abuse
Simple tactics arrest FMLA abuse during intermittent FMLA leave
5 ways to stop FMLA abuse dead in its tracks
Steps to combating FMLA abuse
How to combat FMLA abuse
As FMLA Abuse mounts, the employer must lay down the law
Reducing risk and abuse of FMLA leave

How do you or your agency attempt to curb FMLA abuse?  Share your story by responding/commenting to this post.

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  1. Looks like abuse, no doubt. In our groupage shipping company it is strictly divided, what should be covered with FMLA, and what will not be covered.

  2. If the job isn't paying you how is it abuse?

  3. If the job isn't paying you how is it abuse?