Preventing FMLA Abuse


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides employees with job-protected leave to attend to serious family, medical, or military matters. Proper FMLA leave needs to be qualified, and some unethical employees have abused FMLA privileges for personal gain or convenience. Preventing FMLA abuse can be accomplished through understanding legitimate leave, recognizing the signs of FMLA abuse, and knowing an employer’s rights when facilitating FMLA leave.

Legitimate FMLA Leave

Employers are required to grant their employees FMLA leave when it is medically necessary, and this can include prenatal examinations, chronic pain, or other ongoing medical appointments that can inhibit scheduled work hours. Navigating the various FMLA laws can be intimidating, and many human resources personnel are understandably tentative when verifying employees’ FMLA leave requests.

FMLA Abuse

Perceptive employees can use this ambiguity toward their advantage and abuse the system. Based on the patterns of legitimate leave, unscrupulous employees can mimic these patterns to give the appearance of legitimate FMLA leave. For example, an employee with a chronic medical condition may call in right before the start of their shift stating they are not feeling well. Similarly, the employee can leave a voicemail or email requesting to take “an FMLA day” on the same day they are scheduled to work. Patterns of specific days (e.g., every other Monday) can also indicate that an employee is abusing FMLA leave.

Employer Rights

Employers have the right to verify an employee’s FMLA request by seeking medical certification that supports the employee’s FMLA request. FMLA documentation should state the following:

  • Whether or not a doctor is involved
  • Specific time periods
  • Whether or not the condition is recurring
  • Medical facts
  • Reasons why the employee cannot perform job tasks

NOVAtime Workforce Management Assists FMLA Documentation

NOVAtime understands that the FMLA regulations can be potentially daunting for human resources professionals. For this reason, NOVAtime includes an FMLA module within its workforce management solution that provides assistance in the configuration and implementation of FMLA within an organization. For example, FMLA recertification usually every 30 days, and the system can be configured to remind an HR employee when recertification is required. The NOVAtime system can also record the following information to assist in FMLA implementation:

  • FMLA Reason Code (e.g., Maternity/Paternity Leave, Personal Illness)
  • FMLA Eligibility
  • FMLA Locations
  • FMLA Forms
  • FMLA Deductions and Accruals


FMLA regulations can be an intimidating landscape for human resources professionals, and unethical employees can take advantage of this for personal gain. Recognizing and preventing FMLA abuse can be mitigated by understanding legitimate leave, recognizing the signs of FMLA abuse, and knowing an employer’s rights when facilitating FMLA leave. NOVAtime can assist human resources professionals by having efficient and intuitive systems in place to prevent FMLA abuse.

For additional information, please contact NOVAtime: 877-486-6682 - or - Click here

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