Lessons in Ignorance: The Intersection of FMLA and Workers’ Comp

by Michael Haberman on March 12, 2010 · 0 comments


I had the good fortune to attend a legal update hosted by the Atlanta Law firm of Drew Eckl & Farnham. The afternoon session on employment law was moderated by attorney Joe Chancey (a very well spoken attorney). Joe used a verison of the Socratic Method and posed several scenarios to the audience and solicited answers from them. He then had a panel attorney give the correct answer. The session was very good, but in listening to the answers that the HR people in the audience give I was dismayed at the lack of knowledge displayed. (Guess that is why they were there for education.) I of course knew all the correct answers. (He says with great humility!)

One scenario posed dealt with a workers’ compensation situation and FMLA. There was a lot of confusion about this scenario. Many people did NOT know that you can run Family and Medical Leave time concurrently with someone being out of work for Workers’ Comp. Not only can you do that, you SHOULD do that. Otherwise you run the risk of extending considerably the amount of time someone can be away from work. Many audience members thought that Workers’ Comp time had to play out entirely before someone could be charged with FMLA time. One audience member was even unaware that FMLA could be used for your PERSONAL illness. She thought it was for family only. (I sighed heavily at that.)

This session pointed out that there is a great deal of lack of education or knowledge in many areas of HR, but particularly in the arena of intersection of FMLA, ADA and Workers’ Compensation. I do not have the space here to cover that topic, other than the lesson mentioned above about running concurrent calendars on FMLA and Workers’ Comp time. But if you have to deal with this it is critical you understand this. The mistakes can be very expensive. In fact I may develop an E-book on this topic. So stay tuned.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

JunkyardHR March 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

It astounds me at the number of people who don't really know the basics of HR law. (but thankfully, they were there to learn) Much of the automation in HR has been in "decision making" – and its taken away the ability to learn the skill of making "grey area" decisions.

HR isn't always about 'strategy' or that seat at the table. Its about integrating law into policy and making decisions that keep the company and employees growing.

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