FMLA Abuse Part 3: Patterns vs. Abuse

When you start looking closer at an employee’s intermittent FMLA absences and you find a pattern, it’s tempting to automatically assume that it’s abuse.

But it’s important to differentiate between a pattern of absences and intentional misuse or abuse of their FMLA.

Take this example:

Sheila works as a shipping and receiving clerk in your warehouse and she has intermittent FMLA for her Rheumatoid Arthritis. You review her FMLA absences and notice that she tends to use her FMLA more frequently on Fridays than any other day, especially in the summer.

Here are a variety of reasons that her absences fall on Fridays and increase in the summer:

  • She has treatments every other Friday and isn’t aware that she can schedule her FMLA absences in advance.
  • Her condition is often worse at the end of the week, resulting in Friday absences.
  • Warm weather causes her condition to flare up.


  • She is using it to extend her weekends because her family has a vacation home on a lake that they visit more frequently in the summer. (i.e. she is actually abusing it)

But just because there’s a pattern, doesn’t mean that she is abusing it.

Next week’s article will talk about how to approach these types of findings and what to do about it. Stay tuned!

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 We hope you enjoyed reading our article on Patterns vs. Abuse!

Leave Solutions is based in Milwaukee, WI and helps employers with their FMLA and leave of absence processes from a Human Resources perspective.

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