Employment Law Blog

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Jul 14, 2015

Could an employee’s text to a supervisor trigger FMLA?

Q&ALeave Laws 

Is a text from an employee to their supervisor enough to excuse the employee’s absence and/or trigger FMLA?

Yes, a text from an employee to their supervisor could be enough to excuse their absence and trigger the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if you’ve allowed employees to use that method in the past. Many employers have a policy that requires employees to actually call in to the office in order to excuse their absence. However, the practical reality for many supervisors is that their employees occasionally text them to let them know they’re not going to be at work. If your supervisors are getting in the habit of receiving information from their employees via text, you should update your policy to acknowledge these changing circumstances or make sure that all supervisors are requiring a phone call. Depending on the information contained in the text, it could trigger FMLA protection. For example, the text might say, “Got in an accident last night and had to stay overnight in the hospital. Looks like I’m going to be laid up for at least a week.” This kind of information would rise to the level of an FMLA-qualifying event, so it would be necessary for the employer to start the process of designating the time off as FMLA.

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