Neighbor door matThis past December, the Department of Labor quietly turned its FMLA enforcement over to a new leader. After the retirement of FMLA Branch Chief Diane Dawson, who led the DOL’s FMLA enforcement for several years, the DOL turned to longtime DOL FMLA policy guru Helen Applewhaite to head up the agency’s FMLA efforts.  (DOL doesn’t

Wal-martFor several weeks now, attorneys and legal academics across the country have dissected the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes (pdf) decision, which shut the door to a 1.5 million class of current and former female Wal-Mart employees who are claiming that they were denied pay increases and promotions because of their gender.  In striking down

sheriff car.jpgCook County, Illinois (the county in which Chicago is located) currently faces one of the largest budget deficits in its government’s history.  So, when the Cook County Board president (Toni Preckwinkle) tells the County Sheriff (Tom Dart) to cut $70 million from his budget, it tends to grab people’s attention.  In this story, however, this proposed budget cut took a back seat to a notable statistic that grabbed the headlines: one out of every five employees in the sheriff’s office takes FMLA leave on any given workday.  At the Cook County Jail, it’s one in four, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Before you are left aghast at these figures, allow me to point out a sad fact: the Cook County Sheriff is not alone.  In my experience, I find all too many employers that suffer through FMLA absenteeism percentages well above the single digits.  In fact, a new client shared with me that as much as 30% of its workforce is absent on any given workday, the far majority of which is FMLA-related. 

When I hear of FMLA absenteeism figures as high as these, one thing is abundantly clear: FMLA abuse is rampant in that workplace.  Fortunately for employers in this situation, there are several tools available to turn the tide and take back your workplace. 


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