FMLA & Pregnancy Questions

1. When an employee is covered under FMLA - [U]What if the company cannot accomplish its departmental goals without that employee? [/U]The employee is part of a 3 person department within a 65 person credit union. The department can’t keep up without her. The manager of the department is asking me if we can hire a replacement for the pregnant employee. Work is piling up and department morale is sinking.

2. [U]Does the company have a right to hire a replacement to continue business operations without unwanted hardship caused by the absent employee?[/U]

3. Can we replace the pregnant employee, then after her leave, I know we can offer her a similar position at similar pay with similar benefits. [U]What if no position is open at the time she wants to return?[/U]


  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Since you put this in the FMLA section I won't address the pregnancy, just the FMLA.

    If your employee is qualified for FMLA, you must give it to her. The law allows you to avoid reinstatement for certain key employees, however, the key employee standard is very high ("substantial and grievous economic injury to your operations", must be in the highest 10% paid in your company, and be exempt).

    Hire a temporary employee, or someone you can move into anther area once your FMLA employee returns. There are many unemployee people out there who would be willing to work a temporary position that they know will last for months and possibly turn into a permanent position.

    Edit: Here is a link to a good article on it: [url][/url]

    Good luck!

  • I agree with Nae. Hiring a temporary worker solves your problem. There are many good temporary help agencies with qualified people who are eager to get their foot in the door. The high rate of unemployment at this time increases your chance of finding a temp worker who requires a minimum of training.

  • Welcome to the Forum, SDillow!

    I've been in that situation many times in the past few years. We're a credit union of similar size, and in '08 alone our employees had eight babies. Believe me, I heard a lot of arguments from supervisors about why we should replace the missing employees, but not one met the legal tests. Moreover, even if they had, I probably would have fought for them.

    You mentioned that morale is sinking... I'm going to guess that morale would sink even more if your employees thought they could be fired for getting pregnant. Chances are, morale is down because the department supervisor is doing a lousy job of managing expectations and the workload. (Sure, that's just a guess... but it's an educated guess based on a lot of pregnancy leaves over the years.) It may also be a ploy to add to the department - the supervisor may be gambling that after the new mother returns, you won't want to get rid of the replacement and they can have both.

    My recommendation: Sit down with the VP first, and explain the situation... This employee is protected and [I]should be[/I] protected, and that the department supervisor must accept responsibility for making it work. The VP needs to understand that the supervisor's complaints are driving morale down, and will likely result in a fractured team when the employee returns. You and the VP can then talk to the supervisor as a unit.

    Well over half my pregnant employees' supervisors were certain they could not get by without replacements. Exactly the same number were wrong.
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