Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Employers Should Take a Look at Family and Medical Leave Act Guide

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released a guide on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and it is pretty comprehensive. You can access it by clicking here,. Employers should take a look at it, as it provides a good explanation of the FMLA. Some important reminders for employers that the guide discusses are as follows:

  • Employers to whom the FMLA applies must hang a poster explaining an employee’s FMLA rights. A sample of such a poster is provided on p. 12 of the guide
  • If an employee seeks to take FMLA leave, he must provide his or her employer with notice of the leave and the reasons for it. An employee must provide notice of the reasons for his or her leave. This notice can be oral or written, and should be done in the way that an employer requires employees to provide notice of time off. 
  • An employee is only eligible for FMLA leave if he or she has worked for 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during that 12-month period. 
  • The FMLA allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with his or her own medical issue or that of an immediate family member. This includes maternity/paternity leave, pregnancy, a serious illness, or a family member being called into active military duty. 
  • An employee does not need to take all of the leave at once. If the employee has a chronic condition that requires him or her to miss work one day a week, the FMLA requires the employer to allow the employee to take that leave. In this situation, the employee can be transferred to an alternative position to reduce disruption of operations. 
  • The employer can require the employee to provide a doctor’s note proving that the employee or family member suffers from the medical condition for which he or she seeks leave. 
  • An employer does not have to pay an employee who is on FMLA leave. An employer can also require an employee to exhaust all paid benefit time prior to taking FMLA leave. 
  • An employer does, however, have to continue providing the employee with benefits, like health insurance, during FMLA leave at the same rate as if the employee was not on FMLA leave. 
  • An employee can be fired for failing to return to work after taking 12 weeks of FMLA leave after coordinating other protections and benefits such as those provided in employee handbooks and reasonable accommodations under the ADA which may include an unpaid leave for a definite and finite period of time after FMLA leave expires.
  • When an employee returns from FMLA leave, he or she must be returned to the same or similar job that he or she held prior to taking the leave. 
Contact an Ancel Glink attorney with any FMLA-related questions.