HR Services receives many questions regarding what an employer is allowed to ask of an employee who is out or planning to be out on family and medical leave (FML).
Working While on Leave
An employer may not require an employee to work from home during family and medical leave (FML). However, reasonable, limited contact with an employee about work-related matters is permissible. Court cases regarding contact with an employee during FML suggests following these guidelines:
- Contacts should be limited (in duration and number) and restricted to the scope of passing on institutional knowledge to new staff or providing closure on completed assignments.
- Contacts should be scheduled so as not to interfere with the purpose of leave. If for example, an employee takes leave to care for a family member, the employee should not be required to interrupt care duties to respond to telephone calls.
- The employee should not be expected or required to produce work (e.g., processing payroll, grading papers, and lesson planning) during FML unless the employee consents to light duty as described by Family and Medical Leave Act regulations.
In the event a teacher requests foreseeable FML, the teacher may not be required to submit lesson plans for the entire duration of the leave prior to his or her first day of absence. Foreseeable FML may include leave for:
- birth of a baby,
- baby bonding, or
- to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
In these circumstances, the district may not require a teacher to prepare lesson plans any further in advance than normally required for employees who are not taking FML. Work with the teacher to plan out what work will be completed prior to the start of the leave. Then determine what work will remain to be completed by others and who will take on those responsibilities.
For more information on the topic of leave, visit the HR Library Leaves section.
April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.
Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.
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