April 18, 2014
April 15 is Tax Day and, fortunately, it has passed for another year. In addition to all of the good times (“…enter amount from Form XYZ line 12.d into the matrix on Form TMI and multiply by the greater of the amounts on lines 3 or 4 of the Tax Confusion Worksheet…”), Tax Day 2014 also provided an interesting question in the (fictional) mailbag. Carrie Over, the operations manager at an area restaurant, has a question about a sous chef who missed four days of work, allegedly to care for his “Uncle Sam”. Here is what she asks.
The Bullard Edge’s Response:
Firing Skip, though tempting to you, likely is not the best approach. There are a number of issues in your question and I will try to address each of them.
First, FMLA and OFLA both require covered employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave for a qualifying purpose, such as to care for a family member. However, neither FMLA nor OFLA include “uncles” in the definition of family member. Of course, in Skip’s case, it turns out that there was never an actual uncle.
Second, under both FMLA and OFLA an employee’s own “serious health condition” is a qualifying purpose. The medical note that Skip provided suggests that he may have missed work due to a serious health condition. Needing time off to complete tax forms is not a qualifying purpose; a medical episode triggered by Tax Day may be a qualifying purpose.
Third, both FMLA and OFLA do require that an employee request leave. Where the need for leave is foreseeable, the law requires that an employee request leave 30 days in advance; when the need is foreseeable for less than 30 days in advance or is unforeseeable, then an employee must provide notice as soon as possible and practicable under the circumstances. Skip may have done that.
Despite all of the colorful facts, this seems like a routine family leave situation. The best practice would be to follow your FMLA/OFLA policy in all respects. Please feel free to contact Bullard Law if you have any FMLA/OFLA questions.
The Bullard Edge