This July, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would be revising the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) forms. This would result in significant changes that require additional information in notices and certifications. Although the use of these forms is not required, many employers choose to use the forms as templates for their own internal FMLA processes. Employees, employers, and medical providers fill out sections of these forms in order to process and track FMLA leave.
In this post, we’ll discuss the most important things you need to know about these new FMLA forms:
- Which FMLA forms have been updated
- What changes were made to the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities
- What changes were made to the Designation Notice
- What changes were made to the Medical Certifications
Which FMLA forms have been updated
Some forms were changes with only minor updates, while others were nearly completely redone. Specifically, these are the forms that were updated recently:
- Form WH-381, the notice of eligibility and rights and responsibilities
- Form WH-382, designation notice
- Form WH-380-E, medical certification of an employee’s serious health condition
- Form WH-380-F, medical certification of a family member’s serious health condition
We’ll discuss more of the specifics of these forms in the following sections.
What changes were made to the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities
The Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities form (WH-381) was the form that was changed the most.
The previous version of the form was organized using a list of employee responsibilities, which was followed by a list of employee rights. This old format required the employee to refer to both sections back and forth, which led to confusion. Instead of two separate lists, the new form is organized into three topics (with several subtopics) related to an employee’s FMLA leave:
- Notice of Eligibility
- Additional Information Needed
- Notice of Rights and Responsibilities
- FMLA Leave Entitlement
- Substitution of Paid Leave – When Paid Leave is Used at the Same Time as FMLA Leave
- Maintain Health Benefits
- Other Employee Benefits
- Return-to-Work Requirements
- Other Requirements While on FMLA Leave
This format provides a much more natural flow that is in line with the FMLA process, which should reduce employee and employer confusion.
Additional clarity provided by the new WH-381 form includes:
- Adding an option for an employer to explain the effect that FMLA leave has on employee benefits besides health insurance.
- Clarifying whether FMLA leave will run concurrently with workers’ compensation, any applicable disability insurance coverage, or and other leave required by state law.
- Requiring an employer to indicate how many hours are lacking if a worker does not meet the hourly eligibility criterion (1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave).
What changes were made to the Designation Notice
The changes made to the designation notice should positively impact both the employee and the employer. The new Designation Notice (WH-382) requires that employers specify what action an employee should take if their initial FMLA application had incomplete or insufficient information.
This is a positive change for employers because it allows them to better communicate with the employees about the information that is lacking in their FMLA request, which will ultimately help the employer make the correct decision whether to approve or deny FMLA leave.
What changes were made to the Medical Certifications
The changes to the medical certification of an employee’s serious health condition (WH-380-E) and the medical certification of a family member’s serious health condition (WH-380-F) seem to be designed to reduce the need for back and forth communication between the employer and the medical provider. Both forms now ask the medical provider to indicate a “best estimate” of the employee’s or family member’s future treatment. The forms also the medical provider to describe an essential job function that the employee cannot perform due to the injury or illness.
Both of these additions should streamline communication between the employer and the medical provider, which should lead to positive results.
Employers will want to review the recent changes that the DOL made to the standard FMLA forms. These forms are a great resource to use as templates for your own internal FMLA processes, as long as they are appropriately understood.
Key changes to the forms include:
- Form WH-381, the notice of eligibility and rights and responsibilities, has been reformatted to better match the regular flow of the FMLA process.
- Form WH-382, designation notice, requires that employers specify what action an employee should take if their initial FMLA application had incomplete or insufficient information.
- Forms WH-380-E and WH-380-F, medical certifications, ask the medical provider for additional information about the condition of the employee in order to reduce the need for back and forth communication with the employer.
Finally, be sure to look over the new forms yourself. In addition to using the links throughout this post, all the new revised FMLA forms can be found here: