Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Can an employer require two calls from an employee to request FMLA leave?
Sometimes employers’ policies will require an employee to notify more than one person about taking FMLA leave. This can be for very legitimate reasons. It might be that an employee is required to notify a supervisor and HR. Or, an employee might be asked to notify a Third Party Administrator (commonly abbreviated as a TPA), in addition to someone at the company. Although some courts have upheld an employer’s right to require an employee to notify multiple parties about FMLA leave, others have limited employer options.
If you are going to require an employee to notify more than one point of contact about FMLA leave, here are some key considerations:
- When possible, make sure that your call-in requirements apply across the board for all leave requests. Courts will be more favorably inclined if the call-in is treated the same when it is due to a flat tire vs. an FMLA-qualifying reason.
- Make sure your call-in requirements are clear and made known to the employee. If they are buried in a lengthy FMLA policy, a court may excuse an employee’s failure to follow them.
- Remember that when the need for leave is not foreseeable, the FMLA excuses ordinary call-in procedures.
- Finally, consider whether you should request that employees notify one central source and have that source notify others as needed. You should keep in mind that managers may have a practical need to know about employee absences, but might be better served if kept in the dark on the details. Employers should keep in mind that medical information must be kept confidential, and managers can be held individually liable for violations of the FMLA.
Managing FMLA leave can be a challenge for employers. Consistency is key.