Q: Does PTO count towards "returning to work" after taking FMLA leave?
I will be taking twelve weeks of FMLA leave when my next child is born in October. After my FMLA leave expires I will be using six weeks of accrued PTO (which has already been approved by my HR department). During my leave, I plan on finding a job with a new company. My HR department has said that if I don't return after my leave I will have to pay for the cost of my benefits during my leave. From what I have been able to find online it sounds like returning for one month of work is considered "returning".
My question is will my six weeks of PTO being used after my FMLA leave is over be considered "returning to work" even though I'm not physically returning to work?
A: If I were you, I would interpret what HR is telling you as meaning that you must physically return to work. I would not interpret using PTO as "working." The only exception that I could imagine would be is if you are too disabled to be able to RTW, and you have to quit, because in that instance you could be protected by the rules re: physical disability. In order to give you a complete opinion, an attorney would have to review your HR policies on returning to work after taking FMLA leave and PTO. Best if you contact a local attorney to discuss your situation.
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