My employer wants me to fill out FMLA paperwork. I am currently in a physical therapy program that meets two hours a day three times a week. I am working through lunch to make up my time and also working after work to make up my time. I only have three more weeks of therapy left. I am a salaried employee. How would you handle the situation?

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A company is supposed to document FMLA any time an employee reports that they are dealing with a "serious medical condition" that affects their ability to be at work. It sounds like this is enough to impact your schedule, even if you're making up the work, so it's enough to warrant documentation.

FMLA is designed as a protection for employees - it allows you to take the time you need to recover and the company can't fire you because you took time off. Your benefits remain in effect even if your weekly schedule drops below the eligibility threshold (30-35 hours per week at most companies). You can get up to 12 weeks total in a year, and if you take it intermittently, its counted by the hours in your regular pre-FMLA work week. It sounds like your therapy schedule might have you only "missing" a few hours a week, so you won't even get close to 12 weeks.

Since you're salaried, you're paid for the work, not the time you spend doing it. If you're still getting all your work done, they shouldn't try to dock your pay for the "missed" hours. I've worked for companies that would try, but the good HR folks I know would never recommend it.

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I agree with everything HR Benefits Specialist 1 said above! I would also add, however, that FMLA is not optional (according to our legal counsel). When a qualifying situation arises, both employer and employee are required to engage with the FMLA process. Neither party has a choice in the matter, so I wouldn't come down too hard on your employer for this.

If it seems like it came up suddenly, I would guess that the person above was right that HR or someone who handles compliance found out about your situation and instructed immediate action.

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Sounds like you need an accommodation and that’s why you’re being asked to complete FMLA documents.

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Your employer is obligated to offer you FMLA for any applicable situation. Sounds like you would be using it intermittently which is no big deal. Plus, you have the job protection of FMLA.

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I’m going to talk to them again because I was completely caught off guard by the conversation and request. I’ve done FMLA and leaves of absences before for my employees so I know exactly what is needed and I would be the first to ask for FMLA if I needed it. So I’m going to meet with them and ask some clarifying questions and try to get to the root of this. But it’s still just weird and odd that this is happening.

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Yeah, they have a legal entitlement to do that if you're going for therapy and it's getting in the way of your productivity. I would try and reschedule your therapy appointments to to afterword if possible so you don't have to go through that.

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I have been doing leaves for over 16 years and came here to say these exact points.

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Ugh. Have you talked to them and do they understand the effort you've been putting in and how soon the physical therapy will be over?

FMLA is a benefit to you, but more so most companies have legal counsel help to determine when it is used.

They can’t mandate that you apply for FMLA. They are legally obligated to OFFER and make you aware of it.

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