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2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

Product Code: VFM02152023


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2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

Wednesday, February 15 – Thursday, February 16, 2023 
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Pacific Virtual

Program Length: 8 hours

As an HR professional, you are tasked with remaining in compliance with various state and federal laws. And one of the most difficult employment laws to keep compliant with is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). And there’s no “good faith” exception for FMLA compliance—if you get it wrong, you are setting your organization up for costly lawsuits and terrible PR. With the liability risks involved with improper administration of the FMLA, it has become an increasingly popular topic for businesses.

In this Advanced FMLA Master Class, you will dive into situations that require a more advanced knowledge of the FMLA and FMLA compliance. This course will guide you through finding the best solutions for a variety of advanced subjects such as:

  • Leave laws that overlap with the FMLA and when those types of leave apply;
  • Calculating FMLA eligibility for employees, including those employees with a varied schedule;
  • How to best manage intermittent leave;
  • When and how to reach out to an employee’s physician for certification questions;
  • Identifying and investigating when employees misuse or abuse FMLA;
  • Managing and preventing employees moonlighting while on FMLA leave;
  • When you can fire employees who are on FMLA leave;
  • If and when you could be held individually liable for FMLA violations; and
  • How courts are currently interpreting FMLA regulations and other FMLA hot topics.

Join Sharell Thomas-Hodge for our interactive advanced FMLA master class on February 15-16, 2023. And, if you're a first time HR professional and unfamiliar with the FMLA, catch up before this event by attending the 2023 FMLA Virtual Master Class: Basic Skills for Employee Leave Management on January 18-19, or by viewing it on-demand. The introductory class will get you up to speed ahead of this advanced live event.

Our advanced course will guide you through finding the best solutions for a variety of complex FMLA subjects such as:

  • Leave laws that overlap with the FMLA and when those types of leave apply;
  • Calculating FMLA eligibility for employees, including those employees with a varied schedule;
  • How to best manage intermittent leave;
  • When and how to reach out to an employee’s physician for certification questions;
  • Identifying and investigating when employees misuse or abuse FMLA;
  • Managing and preventing employees moonlighting while on FMLA leave;
  • When you can fire employees who are on FMLA leave; and
  • How courts are currently interpreting FMLA regulations and other FMLA hot topics.

2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

Agenda

*All Times are in Eastern
12:00 p.m. –  4:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 a.m. –  1:00 p.m. Pacific each day

Day 1—Beyond the Basics: Conquering Complex FMLA Challenges from the Beginning

12:00 p.m. – 12:05 p.m.        
Speaker Introduction

12:00 p.m. – 1:05 p.m.          
FMLA Overview: FMLA Eligibility, Notices, and Policies

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a complex legal beast. Even the most seasoned of employers and Human Resources professionals can become ensnared in the maze of federal and state FMLA rules and regulations. But calculating and tracking employee leave under the FMLA isn’t as simple as just keeping an attendance record. The math can get complicated! Having a good grasp of timing rules—and learning how to monitor other key areas of FMLA usage—can help you prevent abuse of FMLA entitlements and fend off litigation.

This session will set the foundation for our program. We will provide a helpful road map for navigating complex and advanced FMLA situations you may encounter. We will highlight recent trends and developments affecting leave and discuss how to proactively adjust your policies and practices to ensure compliance with the ever-changing regulatory, legal, and practical FMLA landscape. Some areas we will cover include:

  • A brief overview/review of FMLA basic requirements;
  • Advance notice you can legally require before honoring leave requests in certain instances;
  • Policies and procedures your organization MUST have in order to track leave accurately;
  • How to calculate and manage regular and intermittent FMLA leave taken by employees who routinely work a flexible schedule, part-time, or overtime;
  • How to apply a minimum increment of leave—and protect against tracking errors; and
  • The hazards of failing to track all FMLA leave and how to prevent them.

Wrap up the session and get your questions answered in real time before heading into a Break. Recap the steps for calculating leave, inquire about your organization's leave policies, and more; make sure you leave this segment with no questions asked!

1:05 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Break

1:15 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.
Cautious Communication: Working with Employees, Physicians, and Others During the FMLA Process 

An increase in FMLA-related lawsuits and a rise in the number of FMLA leave requests due to more public awareness of the law has created a compliance nightmare for employers. The multiple federal and state FMLA laws have created confusion about what law applies at what time and how previous laws interact with new laws.

Whether the serious health condition is the employee’s own or that of a covered family member, employers will often need additional guidance to assess whether a condition qualifies for FMLA leave. While the regulations do provide some assistance, it’s important to understand just how critical the initial medical certification/recertification process is for employers. Understanding your right to request certification/recertification—and to delay or deny leave when it is incomplete or insufficient—is an empowering tool in your leave toolbox. This session will cover the latest updates concerning the impact communication (before, during, and after FMLA leave) can have on:

  • Your FMLA leave policy with employees—and having a policy readily available—and why it’s so important;
  • The importance of proper FMLA-related correspondence;
  • Notifying an employee with the amount of FMLA leave that will be permitted;
  • Giving notice if the employee is or is not eligible for FMLA leave;
  • Communicating with your employees and determining what you can ask for in terms of updates, how often you can ask, and how to maintain good relationships even when asking probing questions;
  • The correct way to resolve any disputes between you and an employee seeking leave; and
  • Why training employees in FMLA compliance is essential—and pointers on how to ensure that managers know the proper steps to take to respond to requests, returns to work, etc. 

1:50 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Proper and Complete FMLA Certifications

It seems simple enough, but the FMLA certification and recertification process isn’t always cut and dried. And although obtaining the necessary information to complete the proper leave forms can sometimes seem daunting, taking the time to do so can only benefit your organization. In this part of the session, you’ll learn:

  • How to ensure that you’re following certification/recertification guidelines within the proper timeframe;
  • How to calculate an employee’s absences before he or she provided notice of need for leave (or before certification);
  • What to do when a medical certification/recertification is incomplete or unclear;
  • When you should or should not contact an employee’s physician and the legal dangers when calling an employee’s physician;
  • Your options when an employee or physician doesn’t cooperate with obtaining the required certifications;
  • When requiring certification/recertification of an employee's serious health condition is considered "on a reasonable basis;”
  • The general “do's and don’ts” of return-to-work certifications; and
  • When it’s reasonably safe to deny leave based on the medical certification that has been provided.

2:30 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.
Break

2:40 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Watch Out: Recognizing, Combating, and Preventing FMLA Abuse

Responding appropriately to FMLA leave requests while keeping your organization running smoothly can certainly seem like a daunting task. To minimize disruption in your workplace, you've got to know how to detect and deal with employees who abuse FMLA. Stopping leave abuse requires an understanding of what you can and cannot do under the law. And while walking this compliance tightrope raises many questions, one thing is clear—no employer should be afraid to hold employees accountable for their actions for fear of legal entanglements, especially since FMLA rules and regulations set forth the right to limit FMLA abuse.

Sometimes the writing is on the wall, like Monday/Friday absences and midday doctor’s appointments. Some abuse may be more subtle, but regardless of what the employee is doing to work the system, the question is—what can you legally do about it? This session covers:

  • How to identify and investigate when an employee misuses or abuses FMLA leave;
  • What supervisors can and should ask when they suspect an employee is abusing FMLA leave;
  • Attendance policy essentials for taking disciplinary action against workers who don't provide adequate documentation for repeated absences;
  • How to identify tampering on certification forms;
  • When you should investigate suspected abuse of intermittent/reduced schedule leave using social media;
  • How far you can go to catch an FMLA abuser in the act—and what you need to consider before conducting surveillance of an employee; and
  • How to prevent retaliation or leave interference claims when investigating FMLA abuse.

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Day 1 Q&A Session    

Have lingering questions about points raised during the first day of this intensive Advanced FMLA hypo-driven workshop, or want to revisit a fundamental concept or two from earlier in the day? Take advantage of this opportunity to get clarification from the presenter before you wrap up for the day.

Day 2—Intensive Workshop Addressing the Real-Life Application of FMLA Rules, DOL Regulations, and Court Rulings

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.          
FMLA Musts: Mastering the Tough FMLA Issues

If dealing with the FMLA was simple, employers and Human Resources professionals across the country would have mastered FMLA compliance long ago. It’s one thing to grasp individual FMLA rules, but it’s another thing entirely to put those pieces together in the real world.

For example, intermittent leave seems pretty straightforward on paper, but how employers really manage it is another story. What about temporary light-duty positions and fluctuating work schedules? Reinstatement after leave? And finally, how do you handle an FMLA investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL)?

The key to avoiding liability and mastering the toughest FMLA issues is to notify employees of their rights, determine if a serious health condition exists, and then designate the leave as FMLA leave, as appropriate. This session will help you learn:

  • How to conduct a comprehensive, effective FMLA self-audit that addresses FMLA recordkeeping, training, leave procedures, and more;
  • What to do if an employee refuses FMLA designation;
  • How to manage intermittent and reduced-schedule leave;
  • When employees can fall in and out of FMLA protection based on their use of leave;
  • How to manage goal setting and bonus payouts for employees on FMLA leave who didn’t meet those goals due to leave (e.g., perfect attendance, products sold, etc.);
  • How much leave an employee is entitled to take when he or she has multiple FMLA-qualifying events at the same time; and
  • When and how to terminate an employee who is on FMLA leave.

1:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Break

1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
All Together Now: Coordinating the FMLA with the ADA, Workers’ Comp, and State Family Leave Laws

The FMLA is pretty comprehensive, but it’s not the only law that applies when employees need time off for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member, or for other reasons. It can be a struggle for employers to figure out how to provide the leave guaranteed under federal and state laws without putting undue burdens on themselves.

Failing to recognize concurrent application of the FMLA and other laws opens you up to administrative complaints and lawsuits. You need to know when other laws create different (and sometimes additional) obligations—and how their requirements work in tandem with the FMLA. In this session we’ll cover:

  • Similarities and critical differences between the FMLA, ADA, workers' compensation, and more;
  • Common mistakes to avoid when coordinating FMLA leave and complying with additional leave laws;
  • How to evaluate whether your FMLA forms are legally compliant with all federal and state regulations;
  • How to coordinate state and federal leave when covered family members differ;
  • When you can require employees to take FMLA leave concurrently with other types of leave; and
  • Recent developments in federal and state leave laws, including paid sick leave, family leave, pregnancy accommodation, and other trends.

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Break

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Applying Your Knowledge

During this highly interactive portion of the Advanced FMLA Master Class, your trainer will walk you through a series of scenarios demonstrating the complex real-life FMLA issues that stump even the most seasoned employers and human resources practitioners. 

You’ll have the opportunity to discuss issues with your trainer and fellow attendees to determine the correct course of action to take based on the facts presented and your knowledge of fundamental FMLA compliance principles.

Recent court rulings, long-standing case law precedent, DOL interpretations, opinion letters, and regulations—as well as the trainer’ own experiences in advising clients—are interwoven into this engaging afternoon workshop, with the goal of providing you with actionable insights into the tricky FMLA issues that come up in daily work life. You’ll dive deep into:

1. Medical certifications and what to do when:

  • The employee does not provide you with sufficient certification
  • The employee does not return the certification
  • The employee refuses to update the certification if the need for leave changes
  • The employee does not submit fitness-for-duty certification at the end of leave

2. Communication & leave:

  • Require certification of the need for leave
  • Confirmation an employee is eligible for FMLA leave and how much time is allowed
  • Specific information on when leave is needed and the expected frequency and duration
  • What to do if an employee uses more leave than expected
  • Abuse of FMLA leave (Mondays and Fridays and/or before and after holidays)

3. Discipline & termination:

  • What to do when an employee requests FMLA leave in the midst of the disciplinary process or just before discipline or termination steps are taken
  • Addressing performance issues that arise during intermittent or reduced-schedule leave
  • Addressing performance issues discovered while an employee is on leave
  • Reductions in force while the employee is on FMLA leave

4. Return to work—what to do if an employee is:

  • Not able to return to work at the end of leave (ADA considerations)
  • Cleared to return to work with restrictions
  • Temporarily unable to perform essential functions
  • Unable to perform essential functions in the long term

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Day 2 Q&A Session and Closing

Still have questions about points raised during this intensive FMLA training, or want to revisit a core idea or two from earlier in the day? Use this time to get clarification from the speaker before the course comes to a close.

2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

Speakers

Sharell Thomas-HodgeSharell Thomas-Hodge, Total Rewards Director, YMCA of Metro Atlanta

Sharell Thomas-Hodge is the Total Rewards Director for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. She joined the company in 2020 and her responsibilities include compensation, executive compensation, benefits design & administration, and payroll. Prior to joining The Y, Sharell was the Director of Total Rewards at Dekra North America. During her tenure at Dekra she played a significant role in the acquisition of 7 companies and was a key architect in the creation of a total rewards program designed for the newly established safety company. She also worked for Strategic Benefits Consulting as a Senior Benefits Consultant, responsible for Executive and Global Compensation. Sharell is a graduate of Devry University and holds an MBA. She is a SHRM Certified Senior Professional and has been a featured speaker at the Quit Commuting Conference. Sharell currently serves on the HR Committee of the board at the Atlanta Mission and is also the CEO of The Sharell Group, a coaching and consulting firm. Sharell enjoys reading, singing and spending time with her family.

2023 FMLA Virtual Master Class: Basic Skills for Employee Leave Management

Frequently Asked Questions

What computer set-up do I need to attend this class?

This will be hosted on Zoom. Attendees should have access to a computer that has a microphone and speakers/headphone connection to participate. There is also an option to dial in if needed. You can read the full system requirements for Zoom by visiting https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362023-Zoom-system-requirements-Windows-macOS-Linux. You can also test your system by visiting https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-Joining-a-test-meeting.

For the best overall and highest quality connection experience we recommend using the Zoom Meetings application, but if you cannot download or run the application, you may join via a Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari web browser by going to https://join.zoom.us/, clicking on “Join a Meeting” at the top of the window, and entering the meeting information; please be sure to enter your full name when prompted. You can also click on the link provided and choose “Join from Your Browser” at the bottom of the window (just cancel the app initiation as needed). For complete instructions see https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362593-Launching-Zoom-from-a-web-browser.

2023 Advanced FMLA Virtual Master Class: Uncovering Expert Skills for Maximum Compliance

Credit Informtion


HR Certification Institute HRCI


SHRM Preferred Provider
HCI

The use of this official seal confirms that this Activity has met HR Certification Institute’s® (HRCI®)  criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.
HR Certification Institute’s® (www.HRCI.org) official seal confirms that Business & Legal Resources (BLR) meets the criteria for pre-approved recertification credit(s) for any of HRCI’s eight credentials, including SPHR® and PHR®.
This Program has been approved for 7  HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, aPHRi™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®).
For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at www.hrci.org.
The credits expire 12/31/2023.

Business & Learning Resources (BLR) is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 7 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the SHRM Certification website at www.shrm.org/certification.
The credits expire 12/31/2023.

Business & Learning Resources (BLR) is recognized by HCI to offer recertification credits toward a 3-year HCI Certification. This program is valid for 7 HCI Credits. For more information about recertification, please visit the HCI Certification website at www.hci.org/hci-recertification.