Is it a Bad Idea to Job Hunt While Out of Work on FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act was first made effective on August 5th, 1993. While not all workplaces immediately adopted FMLA policies, most employers today do honor employees’ needs for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. During the duration of the leave, group health benefits are still maintained just as though the leave was never taken in the first place.

One of the most frequently-asked questions about FMLA is whether or not seeking out employment during the leave is permitted, and while there isn’t a concrete consensus across the board for all employers, certain general standards do apply. The attitude that the courts will generally take towards the notion of employees on FMLA seeking out alternative employment will have a lot to do with the nature of their condition in the first place.

Respecting The FMLA Terms

While there may be some employers who are uncomfortable with the idea of their employees seeking out different employers during FMLA, it is not illegal for you to do the bare minimum of exploring your options. You may not be permitted to do things that fall out of the bounds of your FMLA limitations, but at the same time, job hunting generally won’t be something that falls outside of the lines of basic permitted conduct while you are under Family Medical Leave Act terms.

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The restrictions of your FMLA term will generally apply to any actions that would be completely unfeasible due to the nature of whatever condition merits FMLA in the first place. If you were to be granted FMLA due to an injury that prevented you from heavy lifting, for example, then going to the gym and lifting heavy weights for two hours would be a serious violation of the terms of your FMLA.

Discrepancies Among Companies

Different employers will oftentimes use differently-worded terms in the paperwork outlining their FMLA guidelines, and so some might be more strict than others when it comes to the way that they handle employment being sought out on when on leave; however, under most circumstances, simply getting in contact with another organization to explore alternative opportunities won’t constitute a violation of the terms.

The policies that an employer outlines about employees seeking out other opportunities when they’re on leave will have to be consistent with the terms applied to employees who aren’t on the leave as well. If it’s not out of order for the ordinary employee to get in touch with other organizations while still doing work with their current company, then it usually won’t be prohibited to seek out alternative employers when on leave either.

Possible Penalties

In the event that a company does have certain policies in place that discourage their employees from seeking out alternative employment when on leave, then the consequences may not necessarily be outright termination. Rather than firing employees who job hunt while they’re on FMLA leave, some companies might instead respond to the violation by simply allotting less generous shifts or demoting the job-hunting employee to a less lucrative position.

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