Money Still Available for BWC Transitional Work Grants

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Over the summer, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) began accepting applications for the latest round of Transitional Work Grants. Grant money is still available for employers wishing to participate.

BWC’s Transitional Work Grants program gives employers the opportunity to hire a professional transitional work developer to assist with the development of BWC-approved policies and procedures focused on best practices and early return to work. The program is open to all private and public taxing district employers (cities, counties, townships, school districts, etc).
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FMLA for Domestic Violence?

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The Domestic Violence Leave Act (H.R. 3151) was introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California in June. She reintroduced it on Oct. 11 in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This legislation would allow employees to take lave under FMLA to address acts of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking aimed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partners and same sex-sex spouses), parent or child.

FMLA leave could be used to seek medical attention for injuries; obtain legal assistance or remedies; participate in a legal proceeding; attend support groups or therapy; and participate in safety planning, among other related activities held during work hours. An employee would be able to substitute paid leave for the leave provided under this bill.

An employer would be entitled to seek certification that the employee is legitimately taking FMLA leave for the reasons outlined in the measure, but would be required to keep such information confidential. In lieu of written documentation, such as police reports or witness statements, an employee would be able to satisfy the certification requirement by providing a written statement describing the reason for taking leave.

The text of this bill already has been incorporated into a more extensive leave bill – the Balancing Act of 2011 (H.R. 2346) – Rep. Woolsey introduced in June. Yet another measure, the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) introduced in May, would require employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

For more information on proposed Domestic Violence Leave Act please visit:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3151

ERC Preferred Partner CareWorks provides Absence Management and FMLA Administration. ERC Members save 5% off per EE per month fee or a $500 discount off Initial Set-up Fee

Court: Employers Have Right to Enforce Leave Policies

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Nearly half of all HR professionals say they’ve approved FMLA leave requests even though they believed the requests weren’t legitimate, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey.

If you think employees are violating your policies, what can you do? One court ruled in May 2011 that you can fire such an employee - but first make sure you have the right policies in place.

The corporate office for the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the country’s largest telecom union, distributes a policy manual to employees that includes a sickness and absenteeism policy. CWA requires employees who accept wage replacement benefits while on medical leave to remain in the immediate vicinity of their homes.

In the case Pellegrino v. CWA, Denise Pellegrino spent two weeks at home, post-operatively and was on concurrent FMLA and paid sick leave - that was before she left home to go to Cancun, Mexico. According to CWA's sick leave policy, employees on leave may not leave their local area without written permission from the company unless seeking medical treatment or conducting "ordinary or necessary activities directly related to personal or family needs."

When CWA officials learned about Pellegrino's trip, they terminated her. She sued, claiming the termination interfered with her right to FMLA leave.

Although the court agreed Pellegrino's leave was protected, it found CWA had a right to enforce its leave policies.

CareWorksUSAsuggests the following to employers:

  • Have a clear sickness and absenteeism policy. CWA would not have been able to terminate this employee without a clearly written policy.
  • Distribute the policy to each employee. In this case, the court noted the employee in this case had received the policy.
  • Consistently enforce the policy. Consistently enforce the policy across your workforce.

(Pellegrino v. CWA, W.D. Pa., 5/19/11)

For more information, contact: 

Scott Vaka
Phone: 614-760-3536
Email: scott.vaka@careworks.com
Website: www.careworksabsence.com

15 Steps to Controlling FMLA Claims

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CareWorks USA has outlined 15 action steps employers can take that will help them control intermittent claims and control costs associated with intermittent absences.

  1. Clearly spell out your FMLA policy in the employee handbook.
  2. Clearly spell out your policy on intermittent leave for bonding after birth or placement (yes, the employer has a choice whether to allow this.)
  3. Run your FMLA concurrent with other applicable benefits.
  4. Check Eligibility every new 12 month period.
  5. Require Certification & Ensure the Certification is complete and legible.
  6. Conduct a thorough review of the medical information ~ a medical professional such as a nurse can be critical in understanding the medical jargon written on the certification.
  7. Include medical clarification in your review as necessary.
  8. Require a Frequency & Duration on Certification.
  9. DOL has given Employers the right to require employees to submit certification every 6 months - Certify claims for 6 months.
  10. Make employees accountable - Require them to report every FMLA occurrence.
  11. Ask your employee questions about his or her leave – every occurrence if necessary.
  12. Temporarily transfer the employee to an alternate duty position while on leave.
  13. Seek Fitness for duty - Employers can now conduct fitness for duty on intermittent cases (in association with an absence.)
  14. Utilize 2nd & 3rd opinions when appropriate.
  15. Partner with a vendor like CareWorks USA to help with administration, tracking and medical clarification.

Visit http://www.careworksabsence.com/leave-administration/ for more information on Family and Medical Leave Act.

ERC partners with CareWorks USA to offer FMLA Administration

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ERC has partnered with CareWorks USA, a national leader in FMLA administration and absence management, to offer its members specialized pricing on CareWorks USA’s administrative services. ERC members will receive a five percent discount per employee per month, or $500 off their setup fees.

CareWorks USA’s services are designed to take the day-to-day administration of FMLA off of an organization’s hands and allow them to focus on the core nature and priorities of their business. Their FMLA administration services include:

  • 24/7 absence reporting
  • Employee and worksite education
  • Dedicated leave of absence teams: Experienced Leave Administration Specialists & Nurse Case Managers 
  • 24/7 web-based claim access
  • And many more!

 “FMLA is a hot topic with our members,” said Pat Perry, president of ERC. “The expertise and resources that CareWorks USA brings to the table is going to be a great benefit to our membership.”

About CareWorks USA 

CareWorks USA is one of the nation’s fastest growing providers of FMLA Administration and Absence Management Services. Their outcome based programs are customized to ensure your FMLA and Absence Management programs are administered according to your organization’s values, philosophies and policies. They offer a streamlined, cost effective approach to ensure consistent claims handling and regulatory compliance both on a state and federal level. Through their technologically advanced software and their administrative and medical expertise, CareWorks USA’s Family Medical Leave administration services provide a comprehensive package of services for employers.

ERC Preferred Partner CareWorks provides Absence Management and FMLA Administration. ERC Members save 5% off per EE per month fee or a $500 discount off Initial Set-up Fee