For many people, the workplace is their home away from home. For others, work is conducted from home. Regardless of whether you have a traditional work day or enjoy a remote or hybrid work schedule, you occasionally need a little flexibility in your life. During those times of need, many turn to FMLA to provide a bit of breathing room.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that offers eligible employees of certain employers the right to take unpaid, protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. Covered employers must also maintain employees’ health benefits during this leave and guarantee their return to the same or equivalent positions afterward.
Many companies are subject to FMLA. These consist of public agencies and public or private schools, regardless of size. It also includes private-sector employers that have 50 or more employees during 20 or more workweeks in the year.
If your company falls under FMLA’s jurisdiction, this useful checklist can help ensure your compliance with FMLA.
If your company falls under FMLA jurisdiction, you are required to display the FMLA poster where employees and applicants can easily see it. You can either use the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) model poster or create your own.
You should also provide your employees with general notice about FMLA leave in the employee handbook. You can use the DOL’s model as an example. Your written materials regarding leave and benefits must contain all of the same information as the DOL’s model.
You are also required to maintain records related to FMLA compliance for at least three years.
The steps for administering leave are fairly straightforward. You should have an established method for tracking FMLA leave usage, including intermittent or reduced scheduled leave. You can create your own forms for administering FMLA leaves or use the DOL’s model forms.
Train your managers on FMLA compliance. They should be able to identify qualifying leave requests. It is also important that they understand the laws prohibiting interference and retaliation for requesting or taking leave.
Determining Eligibility for FMLA Leave
Eligibility for leave is based on specific criteria, the reason for the request, and whether the employee has available FMLA leave. To be eligible, an employee must meet the following requirements:
• Work for a company covered by the FMLA
• Worked for the company for at least 12 months
• Worked at least 1,250 hours for the company during the 12 months prior
• Works at a company with at least 50 employees
Qualifying reasons include caring for a newborn or adopting a child, dealing with a serious health condition, and military-related exigencies.
Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks within a 12-month period.
Employers have the right to request a doctor’s note if an employee needs time off due to their own or a family member’s severe health issue. You can also ask for certification if the leave is related to military family matters. The Department of Labor (DOL) has standard forms like Form WH-381 that you can use for this purpose.
When an employee asks for leave, they should be told about this requirement. If medical certification is needed, they should be given the proper form along with the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities. They should have up to 15 calendar days to return it.
The Designation Notice states whether you decide to approve or decline FMLA leave. It should be given within five business days of the leave request (or when the certification is submitted if needed). You can use the DOL’s standard Designation Notice (Form WH-382) for this.
As responsible employers, it’s vital to uphold certain standards to support your employees during their Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) journeys. It’s essential to remember that the specifics of FMLA compliance can differ based on unique situations and the presence of state or local regulations. This commitment to FMLA compliance not only benefits your employees but also strengthens your company’s commitment to their well-being and job security. You can use this as a guide to ensure the best support to your employees during their time of need. Review your company’s FMLA compliance, check out The 7 Steps for FMLA Compliance, and contact Launchways for further assistance.