Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Compliance
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
- For placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care
- To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
- To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
Most employers are required to implement the FMLA (with the notable exception of employers who employ fewer than 50 employees). Employees who request FMLA may take leave in increments of 1 hour.
How is the Year Defined for FMLA?
For the purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer may choose any of the following four methods for defining a “year”.
- The calendar year
- Any fixed 12-month “leave year” such as a fiscal year, a year required by State law, or a year starting on the employee’s “anniversary” date
- The 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee’s first FMLA leave begins
- A “rolling” 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave
The employer must choose one method and make that method known to employees in advance of an employee taking FMLA leave. Otherwise, the employer is required to offer employees leave under FMLA under the “year’ choice that is most beneficial to the employee.
Employees Eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act
To be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act time off, the employee must:
- Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months, and
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and
- Work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
In addition, employers may designate certain highly compensated, “key individuals” who are not eligible for FMLA. The rules on this are strict, so pay attention to all the required notices.
Use of Medical Certification Form
When the leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member, an employer may generally require an employee to obtain a certification setting forth the following information:
- The name, address, phone number, and fax number of the health care provider and the type of medical practice/specialization;
- The approximate date when the serious health condition started and its probable duration;
- A statement or description of appropriate medical facts regarding the patient’s health condition for which FMLA leave is requested. The medical facts must be sufficient to support the need for leave;
- If the employee is the patient, information sufficient to establish that the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the employee’s job as well as the nature of any work restrictions the employee is under, and the likely duration of the inability.
- If the patient is a family member with a serious health condition, information sufficient to establish that the family member needs care, and an estimate of the frequency and duration of the leave required.
- If an employee requests intermittent or reduced schedule leave for planned medical treatment of the employee or of a family member, information sufficient to establish the medical necessity of the intermittent or reduced schedule leave and an estimate of the dates and duration of treatment and any periods of recovery.
- If an employee requests intermittent or reduced schedule leave for unforeseeable episodes of incapacity relating to an employee’s own serious health condition (including pregnancy), information sufficient to establish the medical necessity of the intermittent or reduced schedule leave, and an estimate of the frequency and duration of the episodes of incapacity;
- If an employee requests intermittent or reduced schedule leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, a statement that the leave is medically necessary to care for the family member, which may include assisting the family member’s recovery, and an estimate of the frequency and duration of the leave.
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- Official information on the Family Medical Leave Act can be found at the Department of Labor.We recommend you refer to the following bulletins and information sources for more information:
- For an overview of all information available, see the Family Medical Leave Act Home Page at the US Department of Labor.
- The Department of Labor also provides a FMLA Fact Sheet that provides a summary of the Family Medical Leave Act.
- Employers should refer to the FMLA Compliance Guide for information on rules that they must comply with.
- Those comfortable with reading long, legal documents will appreciate the text of the Family Medical Leave Act that was passed by Congress as well as the Code of the Federal Regulations that implements the Family Medical Leave Act.
State Variants of the FMLA
Numerous states have “FMLA like” laws that affect employers. These laws often have slightly different eligibility requirements and leave durations for similar employee circumstances, and need to be carefully monitored – particularly for employers operating in multiple states.
Notice: The information above and the references are provided “as-is” without any representation as to their accuracy or applicability to your specific situation. We recommend that you seek competent legal advice for all employment issues.