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Offering an equivalent job after medical leave

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Employment Law |

As an employer in Alaska, you likely view your staff as one of your most valuable business resources. For this reason, complying with federal workplace protections such as the Family and Medical Leave Act may not seem like a sacrifice at all. Yet your operations may mandate someone fill their role during their leave. What, then, must you do when they wish to return?

Many of our past clients here at Clapp, Peterson, Tiemessen, Thorsness LLC came to us saying their employees claimed the law required they return to their exact same positions (despite the companies having filled those roles during the employee’s absence). If you find yourself facing a similar claim, you need to know the extent to which that is true.

Returning to work following FMLA leave

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, you must allow an employee returning from FMLA leave to return to either the same job or an equivalent one. An “equivalent” position in this context depends on the following three criteria:

  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Working terms and conditions

Equivalent pay means the same salary or hourly wage, along with equivalent pay premiums (such as the differential pay for non-conventional working hours and the opportunity to work overtime). In addition, you must also offer the employee any bonuses or wage increases they may have been subject to during their absence. The same principles apply when providing a returning employee equivalent employment benefits.

Defining equivalent employment conditions

In reference to equivalent working terms and conditions, you must afford the employee the opportunity to work in the same geographic region and the same schedule they did previously. If the conditions of their employment changed during the absence to require professional licensure, you must allow them the time to certify.

You can more information on employer-employee obligations by continuing to explore our site.