The Elora Jean & Co. owner has come to you asking for guidance on a few issues that were brought to her attention. With the rapidly growing workforce, an increasing number of employees have requested extended time off from work. The owner does not want to grant the time off because of its effect on productivity.
When asked for examples of the requests, she provides you with the following scenarios:
- Employee #1 has been with Elora Jean & Co. for 13 months. She has requested time off to help care for her terminally ill mother-in-law. She is not sure how long she will need to be out of work, but it could be as long as 3 months.
- Employee #2 has been with Elora Jean & Co. for 18 months. His wife just had a baby, and he is asking to take 6 weeks off of work to help with the new responsibilities at home.
- Employee #3 developed health problems since her start with Elora Jean & Co. 7 months ago. Her work attendance is unpredictable. She has exhausted all of her sick days and advised her supervisor that her doctor is requiring her to stay home for a period of 6 weeks.
- Employee #4, who has been with Elora Jean since the company started, has a son that has been called to active duty for the military. Her son, who is a single parent, has a 3-year-old daughter who needs to be cared for. The employee wants to take 8 weeks off work to get her granddaughter situated and transitioned into a new routine as her father leaves to fulfill his military responsibilities abroad.
As the human resources (HR) consultant, you have many questions, and you would like to gather all of the necessary information before providing additional guidance or recommendations. You are aware of the company’s legal limitations and discretions, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The owner has also advised you that the company has no formal leave policy for any type of employee absence, other than 7 paid sick days per year.
After conducting your research, in a memo to the owner, address the following questions:
- Considering the Elora Jean & Co. work environment and history (124 employees, in business for 18 months, mix of union and nonunion), is the company currently exposed to any legal risk by not having a defined leave policy in place? If so, what are the risks and the penalties for violation?
- Of the 4 employee cases described, discuss whether each one would qualify for FMLA leave. Why or why not?
- For employees who do not qualify under FMLA, what would you recommend to the company? Explain other employee leave options for the company without compromising the company’s financial objectives.
- Develop a sample leave policy to be presented to the company owner. Be sure that the policy covers the key components of a comprehensive leave policy, including requirements for eligibility, leave benefits provided, job restoration, pay, and benefits status while on leave. Outline a summary of your recommendations to the company owner, and advise her about the value of implementing this type of policy.