1. What NOT to say
Managers are busy. They’re overseeing the workflow of the day, putting out fires, paying invoices, negotiating with vendors, and managing staff. So when an employee comes to them and says that they’re having knee surgery and will be off work for 6 weeks, it’s understandable why that manager might say something like “You’re really putting us in a bind” or “That’s fine with me but you’re letting your team down”. They’re not bad managers . . . they’re busy managers. That’s why the number one thing you need to teach them is not how to determine if someone is eligible or how to coordinate both federal and state FMLA rules, it’s what they should NOT say to their employees when they trigger their leave or mention a health condition.
2. Listening for FMLA triggers
Unfortunately, an employee will rarely walk into the Human Resources office and clearly articulate that they need to apply for FMLA. The FMLA “trigger” happens in casual, everyday conversations with their supervisor or manager. Your managers need to know how to listen for those triggers and when to contact the HR department.
3. FMLA timelines
Set the expectation with your mangers that the FMLA approval process can take just a few days, or a month or two in some cases and that they should treat all absences during the application period as if they are approved under FMLA.
4. Be nothing but compassionate
This advice pairs with number one. First, train your managers what they should NOT say. Then, train them on what they should say. Give them simple phrases that they can use over and over again, like “I’m sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you”.
5. Define Retaliation
Your managers can probably identify examples of blatant retaliation, such as when an employee gets fired for filing a harassment claim against their supervisor, but retaliation claims are often-times much subtler. Maybe the applied for a leave of absence, the supervisor made a disparaging remark about it, and then the employee started getting assigned to all the grunt-work or an undesirable shift. Or maybe the employee who has never been disciplined in their entire career applied for a leave of absence and then starts getting written up for minor policy violations. Training your managers on what can be perceived as retaliation will go a long way towards preventing it.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on 5 Things to Include When You’re Training Your Managers.
Leave Solutions is based in Milwaukee, WI and helps employers with their FMLA and leave of absence processes from a Human Resources perspective.
Contact us today at email@example.com if you have questions on FMLA training or other topics.