Ask the Experts: FMLA Leave and Attendance Incentives
Question: We give year-end bonuses based on attendance, and employees with a certain number of absences are disqualified. If an employee took FMLA leave, can we count those absences against them and withhold the attendance bonus?
Answer: Yes, if you apply the rubric used to qualify employees for the bonus consistently across all “equivalent leave status” reasons for absence. For example, if you count days off for vacation, paid time off, jury duty, or military leave as absences for the purpose of determining who receives the bonus, you can also count days taken under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.
The same answer applies to bonuses earned for other goals that may be impacted by FMLA leave, such as sales targets or total numbers of hours worked.
If a bonus or raise is not tied to a specific condition, but rather is a cost of living or annual increase provided by all employees, an employee may not be disqualified on the basis of having taken FMLA leave.