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42% of Tampa Bus Drivers Have Signed Up for Intermittent Leave..(!)

WOW.  It's been a few years since I supported a big consumer call center as part of my practice, so I had really forgotten about the pain that Intermittent Leave under FMLA can cause employers. 

The desire for maximum flexibility and at times, the avoidance of accountability, can cause Intermittent Leave to spread like a virus through an operating unit of a company.

For me, I thought bad news in this area would be about 3-4% of all employees in a division or company being approved for Intermittent Leave (10-12 employees in a call center of 300 would cause a big impact to scheduling, etc.).

But 42% of all employees?  You're kidding me, right?  Apparently not - from the Tampa Tribune:

"...Case in point is HARTline, the county's(Tampa metro) public transit service. Forty-twoRalphkramden percent of the bus drivers have signed up for a benefit the federal law calls "unscheduled intermittent leave." Many of them are using the law to extend weekends and go home "sick" to avoid unwanted assignments.

The law designed to cost nothing is costing HARTline and other employers many millions of dollars. The family leave act was intended to cost little or nothing while providing 12 weeks of job security to help workers through challenges (sic) times - such as bringing home a new baby, recovering from illness, or helping an incapacitated relative.

Some workers, including many HARTline drivers, have discovered that minor ailments also qualify, such as back pain and headaches. A one-time doctor's certification can give a worker a perpetual excuse for going home early, sleeping late, or not showing up at all.

Lawmakers were wrong in thinking that two features would minimize employee abuse and employer expense: One, the worker on leave under the act gets no pay and thus has no incentive to malinger, and two, the law applies only to organizations with 50 or more workers, which seems to be ample manpower to make up lost productivity."

But employers like the bus agency can't make up in the afternoon for a bus that doesn't run in the morning. In many businesses, schedules must be kept.

To keep its buses on time, HARTline is spending $2 million a year on overtime, an agency spokesman says, and 39 percent of that cost is attributed to FMLA absences."

42% of all employees.  Maybe it would be easier for that HR Team to certify the people who don't need intermittent leave....

Ralph Kramden would never approve...


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