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Interplay of the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Training for Supervisors
©SHRM 20082 Introduction The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the Atlantic Ocean in which an unusually high number of ships and planes have disappeared. Because the interplay of three major employment laws -- the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Workers’ Compensation – is so complicated and fraught with problems, many HR professionals often refer to these three laws as the Bermuda Triangle of Employment Law. It is essential for all supervisors, in addition to the human resources staff, to understand the interplay of these laws to assure legal compliance as well as to provide employees with the benefits and protections each law provides. This sample presentation is intended for presentation to supervisors and other individuals who manage employees. It is designed to be presented by an individual who is knowledgeable in the ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation and the interaction among these laws. This is a sample presentation that must be customized to include and match the employer’s state laws and its own policies and practices.
©SHRM 20083 Objectives At the close of this session, you will be able to: State why it important to recognize and analyze the interaction of the ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Laws Cite the different purposes of the three laws. Name the enforcement authorities for each law. Cite important areas of interplay between the three laws that employers need to consider when managing employee absenteeism. Describe and analyze a situation in which the three laws interact.
©SHRM 20084 Reasons It is Important to Recognize and Analyze the Interaction of the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Laws It is important to recognize and analyze the interaction of these laws because: 1.The majority of unscheduled and scheduled absences are related to the illness of employees or their family members. One, both, or all three of these laws may be involved. 2.Violations of these laws may result in lost wages, back pay, reinstatement, retroactive benefits, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. 3.Other than the legal responsibilities, employers have moral and ethical responsibilities to assure that employees receive the benefits and protections these laws provide.
©SHRM 20085 Purpose of the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Laws The ADA prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees who are “qualified individuals with a disability”. The FMLA sets minimum leave standards for employees for the birth and newborn care of a child, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, and for the employee’s serious health condition. Workers’ Compensation laws provide for payment of compensation and rehabilitation for workplace injuries and minimize employer liability.
©SHRM 20086 Enforcement Authorities for the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Laws ADA – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) FMLA – Department of Labor (Wage and Hour Division) Workers’ Compensation Laws – State Workers’ Compensation Commissions
©SHRM 20087 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation These are the areas of interplay between the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation that employers need to consider when managing employee absenteeism. NOTE: State laws may provide broader protections that federal requirements. 1.Employer Coverage ADA – 15 or more employees for 20 weeks during current or preceding calendar year FMLA – 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius for at least 20 weeks during current or preceding calendar year Workers’ Compensation – Applies to most, even small employers. State laws govern.
©SHRM 20088 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 2.Employee Eligibility ADA – an employee (or applicant) who is disabled as defined by the ADA, is qualified for the position and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation. FMLA – an employee who has worked at least 12 months and 1250 hours prior to the start of the leave and who works at a worksite where there are 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Workers Compensation – an employee who has an injury arising out of or in the course of employment with state law exceptions possible for willful misconduct or intentional self-inflected injuries, willful disregard of safety rules, or intoxication from alcohol or illegal drugs.
©SHRM 20089 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 3.Length of Leave ADA – No specific limit for the amount of leave that would be provided as a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship on the employer. FMLA – 12 weeks in the 12 month period as defined by the employer Workers’ Compensation – No specific limit for the amount of leave an injured worker may have.
©SHRM 200810 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 4.Medical Documentation ADA – Only medical examinations or inquiries regarding an employee’s disability that are job-related and limited to determining ability to perform the job and whether an accommodation is needed and would be effective. FMLA – Medical certification of the need for the leave not to exceed what is requested in the Department of Labor (DOL) Medical Certification Form. Workers’ Compensation – Medical information that pertains to the employee’s on-the-job injury.
©SHRM 200811 Questions ? Comments ?
©SHRM 200812 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 5.Restricted or Light Duty ADA – Required to be offered if it is a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship on the employer. FMLA – Cannot be required Workers’ Compensation – Ought to be offered if available as it may eliminate the employee’s entitlement to the wage replacement benefit.
©SHRM 200813 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 6.Fitness-to-Return-to-Work Certification ADA –Permitted as long as the medical examination and inquiry is job- related and necessary to determine whether the employee can perform the essential functions of the job. FMLA – Can only be required under a policy or practice that requires employees who have been on a similar type of leave of absence Workers’ Compensation – May be and is typically required.
©SHRM 200814 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 7.Benefits While on Leave ADA –No specific requirements but cannot discriminate and must provide same benefits as those provided to employees on non-ADA leave of absence. FMLA – Health coverage must be continued at same level as prior to the leave. Benefits other than health benefits are determined by the employer's established policy for providing such benefits when the employee is on other forms of leave (paid or unpaid, as appropriate). Workers’ Compensation – Not required to be continued unless run concurrently with FMLA leave.
©SHRM 200815 Areas of Interplay between ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 8.Reinstatement ADA –Required reinstatement to previous job unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. FMLA – Required reinstatement to the same or an equivalent job. NO undue hardship exception. Workers’ Compensation – No reinstatement rights under most state laws, except for retaliatory discharges.
©SHRM 200816 Questions ? Comments ?
©SHRM 200817 Example of Employee Absence Involving Interaction of ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Alice Morgan, an assembly line worker, has called in sick for three days citing extreme back pain. She has been with XYZ Manufacturing, a company with over 500 employees, for three years working full-time with very few absences. Alice calls in sick for the fourth day stating that she was examined by her doctor who took x-rays and stated that she needs complete bed rest and possibly back surgery and will be unable to work for an extended period of time. She states that her doctor thinks the condition is caused by the type of work she has been doing.
©SHRM 200818 Example of Employee Absence Involving Interaction of ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) Using the areas of interactions between the ADA, FMLA, and Workers Compensation laws, here is an analysis of Alice’s absence. 1.Employer Coverage – XYZ Manufacturing is covered under and must comply with the ADA, FMLA and the state Workers Compensation Laws. 2.Employee Eligibility – Alice may be eligible for protection under the ADA and FMLA, depending on the severity of her condition. A workers’ compensation claim must be filed, processed, and a determination made as to coverage under Workers’ Compensation.
©SHRM 200819 Example of Employee Absence Involving Interaction of ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 3.Length of Leave – Leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA is not an issue at this point as Alice’s absence, with proper medical certification, will be designated as FMLA leave. Should her absence exceed 12 weeks, additional leave of absence may be a reasonable ADA accommodation. If the condition is determined to be work-related, workers’ compensation leave will run concurrently with the FMLA leave. 4.Medical Documentation – Under the ADA, no medical documentation is yet required. FMLA medical certification is required. Medical documentation will be required by the workers’ compensation insurer.
©SHRM 200820 Example of Employee Absence Involving Interaction of ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 5.Restricted or Light Duty – Not required at the present time as Alice is unable to work in any capacity until further notice. When she is able to return to work and if she has medical restrictions, light duty, if available, must be offered as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA unless this creates an undue hardship on the employer. Light Duty cannot be required if FMLA leave is still available. Light duty should be offered under Workers’ Compensation. 6.Fitness-to-Return-to-Work Certification - Not required at the present time as Alice is unable to work in any capacity until further notice. When she is able to return to work, depending on any restrictions, she may be required to provide this certification under the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation.
©SHRM 200821 Example of Employee Absence Involving Interaction of ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation (cont’d) 7.Benefits While on Leave – Not required under the ADA. Under FMLA, Alice’s health benefits will be continued at the same level as prior to her leave and she will receive other benefit continuation given for employees on similar non-FMLA leave. No additional benefit continuation under Workers’ Compensation is required. 8.Reinstatement – Alice must be reinstated to her previous job under the ADA unless doing so would create an undue hardship on her employer. If she can return before her 12 weeks of FMLA leave have been exhausted, she will be reinstated in her previous or a similar position. Workers Compensation does not provide for reinstatement under most state laws, except for retaliatory discharge.
©SHRM 200822 Questions?Comments?
©SHRM 200823 Summary It is important to recognize and evaluate the interaction of the ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation Laws because most absences are related to the illness of employees or their family members and one, both, or all three laws may be involved. Employers have legal responsibilities to comply with these laws and face significant violations for non-compliance. Employers have ethical and moral responsibilities to assure employees receive the benefits and protections these laws provide.
©SHRM 200824 Summary (cont’d) The three laws have different purposes. The ADA prohibits discrimination. The FMLA sets minimum leave standards. Workers’ Compensation laws provide for payment of compensation and rehabilitation for workplace injuries and minimize employer liability. The ADA is enforced by the EEOC, FMLA by the DOL and Workers’ Compensation laws by state workers’ compensation commissions.
©SHRM 200825 Summary (cont’d) Important areas of interplay between the three laws are: 1.Employer Coverage 2.Employee Eligibility 3.Length of Leave 4.Medical Documentation 5.Restricted or Light Duty 6.Fitness-to-Return-to-Work Certification 7.Benefits While on Leave 8.Reinstatement
©SHRM 200826 Questions?Comments?
©SHRM 200827 Course Evaluation Please be sure to complete and leave the evaluation sheet you received with your handouts Thank you for your attention and interest !
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