What is the best way to handle an additional request for parental leave?
When deciding how to proceed with this employee you will need to consider both Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements and your company’s practices and policies.
You are not required by FMLA to hold the employee’s job open once their FMLA leave expires. FMLA does not require you to extend this employee’s leave of absence, but you may need to do so based on the past and present practices of your company. For example, if you have previously granted unpaid leaves of absence beyond the FMLA leave, or if you have a written policy allowing such, then denying the extension in this case could open you up to claims of discrimination. It is extremely important for an organization to be consistent with all requests across the board. Regardless of job performance, attendance, position, etc., it is important to be equally fair with all of your employees.
You may not have any specific policies or past practices that would govern this situation. You must decide whether to grant them a personal leave of absence for the additional time off. When making this decision, keep in mind that hiring and training a new employee may take more time and resources than granting this additional leave. On the other hand, by granting their request for additional leave, you will be setting a precedent for future situations as indicated above. As the employer, you’re the one to set the tone for such requests, but you must be consistent with all employees.
If you do decide to grant the extension, it would fall under the company’s own internal personal leave of absence policies and not FMLA, you would need to follow the policies regarding this matter. In the end if you decide not to hold the position open beyond the end of FMLA leave, be sure to send the FMLA exhaustion letter and clearly indicate that you will not be holding the position open beyond that original return date. Again, be sure that you can put this into practice with all employees, whether they are your strongest or weakest asset.
Should you have any additional questions regarding this or other employee topics, CyQuest is here to help!