The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to individuals recovering from a medical condition, caring for sick family members, or following the birth or adoption of a child under the age of 18. This act covers private sector companies with 50 or more employees. Although this law seems to be so confusing, many answers are found within the FMLA regulations found at www.dol/fmla.
For companies who are large enough to support FMLA, it is vital that HR Professionals and managers be supportive of their employee(s) who request FMLA leave. Having the most up-to date FMLA poster visible in your organization along with having this detailed in your employee handbook and having your managers trained are all critical factors when administering this law correctly.
Here are some details you need to be aware of when handling these complex regulations:
- Understand how the 12 week leave period is calculated.
- Understand the medical certification rules and document the reasons for time off.
- Explain the ability to continue health benefits while employee is out.
- Advise the employee in writing whether their request for leave is approved or denied.
- Employees have 15 calendar days after the employer’s request to provide certification from a health care provider to support the employee’s need for FMLSA leave. If this time exceeds 15 days this paperwork should be re-generated.
- FMLA can be tracked in the smallest increments of time. This can be down to the hour, if necessary for calculating intermittent leave.
- Holidays, weekends, temporary plant closures or furloughs don’t count towards FMLA time.
- Treat the employee the same before and after the leave.
While understanding these guidelines are important, training your managers on FMLA is a must! Managers need to know about FMLA and understand what it is because they are often the first to hear when an employee is ill or needs time off. Properly trained managers will know when an absence might signal a qualifying event and can start the process for tracking leave.
Managers must also understand how to respond to FMLA time off requests without violating employee’s rights or the laws of anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination provisions.
If a leave goes beyond the 12 weeks…..It is important to be thoughtful about a termination. It is important to make sure that this leave is not legally protected under the Americans with Disability Act. This is when the laws get interesting when they intermingle.
If you get to a point and your employees have exhausted their 12 weeks of FMLA and are still not back at work, please contact your HR Professional for advice. I can help you avoid a discrimination claim and help you stay complaint with untangling the FMLA and ADA laws.
HR On-Call is like having your own HR Department without the overhead expense of a full-time employee! If you are interested in learning more about how we can work together, please contact Susan at 515-401-2233 or Susan@HROn-Call.com
A little more about us:
Susan Arnold, owner and lead HR Consultant at HR On-Call, LLC. Susan has 20+ years of HR experience and provides a HR presence to business organizations without the overhead expense of a full-time employee. Susan helps business owners improve employer/employee relationships and allows them to focus on their business while resting assured that they are in full compliance with state and federal law.
Areas of expertise:
- Reduce Employer Risk and Liability
- Customized Employee Handbooks
- Performance Reviews
- Improve Employee/Employer Relationships
- Background Checks
- Personality Assessments
- Guaranteed EEO Compliance
- Employee Retention
- Recruitment / Hiring
- Employee Discipline/Discharge
Susan is passionate about her customers and listens to their needs. If you are interested in any of the details above or would like more information about her services, please contact Susan!