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Human Resources/FMLA and mandatory training

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QUESTION: I am out of work on FMLA. I live and work in NC. I work for a non-profit agency. It employees about 100 people. I have a human resources director. I am the employee. Our mandatory  company training are due while I am out on FMLA. I have not completed all the training. Am I to complete them while not working due to FMLA or since I am medically out of work I can't complete them? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER: Leigh,

I hope your time out on FMLA helps you get back to health and to work.

When on qualified FMLA,  you are in charge of how much time you take off and when you take it off.   The employer is not allowed to call you back to work for any reason nor are they to make you take off more time than you want or need.  In addition, FMLA allows employees to use FMLA protected time off in blocks of time as small as one or 4 hours.   FMLA does not need to be taken all at once or in a consecutive manner.   FMLA may be paid or unpaid and may also use up your vacation and this all depends on the Company policy.  At a minimum, it is available for qualified employees of covered employers each year for 480 hours on unpaid basis.  

Of course acknowledging I have no idea of what your health situation is, why you are on FMLA, or what your training consists of whether physical, on-site, classroom, seminars or from a computer website, etc..  So, here is what I suggest you do

1- Contact the employer's HR manager and let them know you are interested in coming back and are eager to do so.  This demonstrates you still intend to return and have skin in the game.

2- Acknowledge to them you know there is training taking place and you want to be a part of it.  During this time you would be considered to  "be back working".    When training day is over,  you go back on FMLA.   So FMLA would  "turn on and off"  during the training that is work and paid time mixed with your unpaid FMLA recovery time.  Incidentally, if you are also concurrently on a short term disability plan, you would need to check with HR or the carrier if your working would end the disability payments or just reduce it by the pay you receive.   FYI-  mandatory training is paid work time,  so your earnings would offset the disability payment if you get that at all.

3- Ask the employer if you can get the training you need to keep sharp and obtain the required continuing education/ certifications for when you return and likely required to do your job;  or ask if the training will be available to you when you get back if not now-  then later.  You don't want to be stuck where you don't get training and have to start at base 1 to be re-certified due to a license lapse or something- if this applies.  IT could in this case be a reason not to keep you on staff as you would now be not qualified.    Again, I have no idea what you do or how important the training is.   Training could be CE for state license; or CE on how to put on a respirator.  One training surely could be done later, other other not so much.

4-  When returning from FMLA,  you are  entitled to go back to the same job, pay and status you had prior to FMLA,  assuming the Company still has that position.   This is why you should be certified.

5-  Depending on what is involved in the training, your doctor may not prefer you take part in it.  So take it up with Doc.

6-  Get everything in writing or via email as much as possible and at a minimum, you should take notes with times and dates when this and that happened for the record- if needed later.   Document - document - document.

So, overall,  you can go and get the training you need as an employee,  but there are things you should check like your Dr's opinion, and also how much time is needed for training.  The best thing you can do is to let HR know your intent,  keep communications open and let them know you are wanting to come back - and document who you talked with and what they said.  Also FMLA is for 480 hours of protected leave-  not 485.  So, be back to work on or before the 480 limit to avoid  "missing"  your leave window and being told you did not come back in time and your position was eliminated or something.  In that case,  the documentation you had taken and the attorney you will hire will come into play.

I hope this helped.

Brian Phillips




---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for a very thorough and detailed answer.  The training is simply company training such as client confidentiality,  HIPPA, case management,  etc... The training are all on-line and taken at any time.  The same training are completed each year,  just with updated information.  So there would be no need to go into work.  The training are not required to maintain a licensure or certification.  In the past,  I have completed training both at work and at home on weekends.  I am a salary employee.  My FMLA is for 6 weeks.  However,  if I am unable to return and need additional leave what time frame should the employer be informed? Is additional paper work required or another medical certification?  I can't say enough,  about your help and expertise.  Thank you.

Answer
Leigh,

You are welcome.

You say you only have 6 weeks.  Do you mean 6 weeks total or 6 weeks remaining and you already used 6 weeks.   Here is where this Free Service can get complicated as there are so many  "if this happens,  then you should....".   

So Federal law allows 12 weeks, not only 6.    If you are only offered 6,  that is not in compliance (likely).  If you already used 6 and have only 6 remaining, AND  you think you will neeed more, then you either get off more time that is non-protected leave (not FMLA protected so you may not get reinstated)  or you can apply for an extension, but that is unlikely for a basic FMLA recovery situation.

So, to save time, feel free to call me at my office to discuss if there is anythign in addition to this.    Of course no charge.  @ HArvis  toll free 866-285-2746.

Let me know..

Brian Phillips

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Brian Phillips

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Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA". http://www.harvis.org

Experience

At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

Organizations
* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Education/Credentials
Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

Awards and Honors
* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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