Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Compliance
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks 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 employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition
- Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job.
Eligible employees may also take up to 26 workweeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.
The FMLA generally covers private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year. Additionally, public agencies and public and private elementary and secondary schools are covered regardless of the number of employees.
How is the Year Defined for FMLA Compliance?
For FMLA purposes an employer may choose one of the following four methods for defining its leave “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
An employer wishing to change its “leave year” must give at least 60 days’ notice to all employees, and must make the change in a way that employees retain the full benefit of 12 weeks of leave.
Employees Eligible for FMLA Leave
To be eligible for FMLA leave, the employee must:
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and
- Have worked for the employer at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and
- Worked 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 of that location.
In addition, following FMLA leave, employers may deny restoration to certain highly compensated, “key employees” if the employer determines that restoring the employee will cause substantial and grievous economic injury to its operations.
Use of Medical Certification Form
When FMLA leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a covered 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 to care for the family member.
- 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.
FMLA Compliance Software for Employers
Employers looking to track FMLA leaves and simplify all aspects of leave case management should turn to WorkForce Software’s EmpCenter® Absence Compliance Tracker (ACT). It is the only FMLA software that transforms complex leave management activities into a simple three-step process: leave determination, case management, and policy compliance. Backed by our exclusive Compliance Guarantee, our FMLA software helps employers reduce absence costs and streamline compliance with national, local, and corporate leave regulations. For more information about FMLA manager software, contact us today.
Additional Resources about FMLA Compliance
Official information on the FMLA can be found at the Department of Labor website. 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 FMLA Fact Sheet #28 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 long, legal documents will appreciate reading the text of the Family Medical Leave Act as well as the FMLA Regulations.
State Variants of FMLA Law
Numerous states have ‘FMLA-like’ laws affecting employers. These laws often have 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.