FMLA and Perfect Attendance

A manager sent me this note - asking how we can change the process with FMLA/ perfect attendance.   Does anyone have insights on how to handle this?

"There is a $100/mo. bonus paid to non-exempt employees who have no instances of being absent or tardy. We started this last year and it has helped improve attendance. The HR department told us we could not disqualify those employees that miss if they have an approved  FMLA situation.

So we have a number of employees earning a perfect attendance bonus but may have missed several days that were protected under FMLA. We promote this program to get others to see the extra benefit of coming to work as scheduled throughout the month. We have been met with some questions/concerns when other employees see names of employees that they know miss work each month.

My opinion is they should be excluded as they were not able to help us when scheduled to work. We don't assess any absenteeism points and their job is protected and I feel that is what FMLA is created to do. Would like your opinion to see if we could change how we pay out this monthly bonus.  Thanks"

I think we are handling this correctly - much to the manager's chagrin. Any thoughts on how we can do this better? differently? while still abiding by the law.   

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  • How can you handle this better? Fire Scrooge and find a new manager with a heart.  

    • Tim Wydra
    • Tim_Wydra
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi Melanie,

    We have a perfect attendance program and went through this same challenge when launching.  Prior to launch, I pulled in a sample or managers and hourly employees, and surprisingly, the hourly employees unanimously pushed to ensure “perfect attendance” included no types of absence or tardy, including FMLA.  They felt this would create animosity across peers, and couldn’t buy-in to employees getting an optional bonus/perk for not actually having perfect attendance.  We agreed and were intentional and transparent about our program, providing clear guidance on how to maintain eligibility for the bonus and what situations would not be eligible.  I have always aligned with FMLA being a job protection, which is far more important that a small bonus to influence solid attendance.  In the multiple years since launching, we have received no complaints, even from those not eligible.

    One other consideration I’ve successfully launched (about one year ago).  We launched an hourly attendance premium (similar to a shift premium) that adds $1 per hour for every hour our employees are on-site contributing.  The guidance is clear and does not include any time away (paid time off, Fmla, call-offs with sick time, etc.), as any eligible paid time away is paid at the normal base rate.  Our employees absolutely love this approach, as it didn’t dramatically add to our costs (think $8 per employee, per shift), but they are receiving this premium in every pay instead of waiting monthly or quarterly.  If your employees are like mine, we are definitely operating in a “what have you done for me lately” environment.

    Hope this helps, happy to discuss or share further if you’d like.

  • Hi Melanie! I have also advised to include approved days off under FML in an attendance incentive for days worked.  The incentive that Tim described is a very creative and positive approach if the managers do not want to include FML time off!

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