Help for our school districts. This is a post for all of our school districts, and all our other public entities that have a June 30 fiscal year. For many of you, getting close to this date means you’re in a critical time to make reasonable accommodation decisions. Especially for our education clients. You want to make, or need to make decisions, before June 30 and before Education Code benefits reset. The best advice we can give you follows:
Number 1: Look through your payroll records and determine what employees you have that are on an unpaid medical-related leave of absence.
Number 2: Identify which of those employees are expected to return to work before June 30, and which employees you either know will be off past June 30, or are unsure if they will or will not return by June 30.
Number 3: Start the Disability Interactive Process HallwayTM for everyone you’ve identified under “Number 2.” You want to be introducing yourself, or reintroducing yourself to the employees who are off work. You want to be ensuring their FMLA and CFRA leaves have run. And, you want to make sure you get to “Door number 1” to clarify if and when they’ll be able to return to work by June 30. For many of you, you may not have sufficient medical documentation to support you to go down the Hallway and make reasonable accommodation decisions. Getting through “Door number 1” will be critical. You want to prepare a questionnaire for their medical provider and ask the following two simple questions:
The goal is simple – to be able to make decisions if it’s reasonable to allow employees to remain off work on unpaid leave of absence past June 30, and if it’s not reasonable, documenting why.
Other questions to ask/consider include:
Is there a cost associated? Will they incur another set of sick leave bank, another vacation bank, another 100 days of half pay, or SUB difference pay? Are you having difficulties finding qualified subs that are willing to cross over the fiscal year? Are parents complaining about having rotating subs in the classroom, and you need to have to hire a teacher long-term, to support those students? What are the reasons that impact your ability to keep them off on an unpaid leave, or what are the reasons an unpaid leave is not unreasonable to continue?