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FMLA Return to Work

What are an employee's rights to return to work from FMLA leave?

Are there any limitations on a department's obligation to reinstate an employee?

What notice and information must be required regarding an employee's return to work?

What are an employee's rights on returning to work from FMLA leave?

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee is entitled to be returned to the same position held when leave commenced, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.

Currently, positions are held for employees on standard length maternity leaves consistent with the FMLA provisions. If an employee is no longer qualified for her/his position, the employee shall be given a reasonable opportunity to fulfill any requirements of the position that may have expired during the leave (e.g., license, special course, etc.). The department's obligations may be governed by ADA if the employee is unable to perform the position duties due to a physical condition. An employee may request to be restored to a different shift, schedule, or position which better suits the employee's personal needs on return from leave subject to the department's approval. However, an employee cannot be induced by the department to accept a different position against the employee's wishes. An employee who fraudulently obtains FMLA leave is not protected by FMLA's job restoration or maintenance of health or dental benefits provisions.

Are there any limitations on a department's obligation to reinstate an employee?

An employee has no greater right to reinstatement or to other benefits and conditions of employment than if the employee had been continuously employed during the FMLA leave period. In order to deny restoration to employment, a department must be able to show  an employee would not otherwise have been employed at the time reinstatement is requested. If an employee was hired for a specific term or only to perform work on a distinct project, the department has no obligation to restore the employee if the employment term or project is over, and the department would not otherwise have continued to employ the employee. (FMLA leave will not be provided beyond an off-date or the end of a temporary appointment.)

What notice and information must be required regarding an employee's return to work?

Human Resources FMLA/Leave Team may require an employee to report periodically on her/his status and intent to return to work. This reporting requirement may not be discriminatory and must take into account all of the relevant facts and circumstances related to the employee's leave situation.

In situations where an employee discovers after beginning leave that the circumstances have changed and the amount of leave originally anticipated is no longer necessary, the employee should give reasonable notice (a minimum of two days) to the employer where early return to work is foreseeable. An employee may not be required to take more leave than necessary to address the qualifying circumstances.

As a condition of restoring an employee from FMLA leave occasioned by employee's own health condition, the employee must provide certification from her/his health care provider that the employee is able to resume work, and can perform the essential functions of the job. The MSU Human Resources FMLA Coordinator is allowed to contact the doctor for clarification or authentication under the same terms as apply for the original certification. However, no second or third fitness-for-duty certifications may be required. This policy or practice must be uniformly applied to all similarly-situated employees (i.e., same occupation, same serious health condition) and must comply with state or local laws, terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, or requirements of ADA. When clarification of a release to return to work is determined to be necessary, an employee's return to work cannot be delayed more than two days while inquiry is made.

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