Megan Parsons was one of the first employees at Best Foot Forward, an athletic shoe manufacturer. At first, her duties included stacking boxes, answering phones, and lacing sneakers. The only time she thought about “HR” was when she saw it in the baseball box scores in the newspaper.
But then, Best Foot Forward grew. And grew some more. Before she knew it, Megan was managing a busy office, which had her setting up employee health plans … network-linking their new satellite locations … and tracking vacation time. When callers would ask to speak to the HR department, she’d say, “You’re talkin’ to her!”
As the company added new employees and new locations, things got more and more complex. And it was then that Megan heard what she started calling “the four-letter word”: FMLA.
“Six months ago, if you’d asked me what FMLA was, I’d have said it was a food additive,” Megan told me over a recent (hurried) lunch. “But now, it’s ‘FMLA this,’ ‘FMLA that.’ And I keep getting calls from attorneys, which means I’m spending time and money on OUR attorney. I’m starting to think that FMLA stands for Fill My Lawyer’s Accounts.”
“I mean, look at this stuff,” she moaned, pulling a sheaf of papers out of her briefcase. “Linda’s driving me nuts with one-hour requests for time off. Bill is claiming a ‘serious medical condition,’ and the guy bench-presses 450. Tammy is claiming she should get her attendance bonus – even though she was out three weeks taking care of her dad!”
“Sounds rough,” I agreed.
“It is,” Megan said. "And that’s not the half of it! The people taking FMLA leave are killing our productivity. And the people who AREN’T are ticked off at the people who are. They feel like half the staff comes and goes as it pleases.
“All these new responsibilities to deal with! It’s like FMLA means Five Million Little Assignments. I thought the company growing would be a good thing – but they haven’t grown the HR department!
“I mean, where did we go right?”
Megan talked to me because I’m her friend, but also because she knows I work for Business Management Daily. She had participated in a webinar we’d done on the FMLA a few years ago, but hadn’t kept up on the changes in the law.
I smiled, then pulled out my BlackBerry. After a few seconds, her Trio started buzzing. She looked at it, and saw an untitled e-mail from me. “What did you just do?” she asked me.
“What did I do? I simply Forwarded Megan Life-changing Answers. I sent you a copy of our FMLA Compliance Guide.”