There is some good new information for employers out there on Family Medical Leave Act compliance. The recently-released Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act puts everything employers need to know about the FMLA in one handy reference.
The new guide covers administration issues from soup to nuts, including notification, requests for leave, verification/medical certification and return to work. The guide provides employers and HR and payroll workers specific information on how they must handle benefits accrual, leave, exempt vs. non-exempt pay and other important issues.
The guide includes a number of useful illustrations and flowcharts that guide the decision-making/compliance process and that provide management with some solid guidelines on what they must do to be in compliance with the law, which generally applies to all private sector employers with 50 employees or more.
One useful addition: The section on military family leave – a subject not very well understood by many employers. These are types of leave that military family members may take to help a military family member prepare for deployment (qualifying exigency leave), or leave they may take to assist a family member in recovering from service-related wounds and injuries (military caregiver leave.)
In addition, the Department of Labor is shortly to issue a new Family Medical Leave Act notification poster. You can use it in place of the 2013 poster edition (both posters fulfill the notification requirement), or you can keep the old one up, if you prefer. However, all employees must hang this poster prominently in an area where both employees and applicants can easily view it. Covered employers who willfully fail the required Family Medical Leave Act posters and other notifications are subject to a civil penalty of up to $110 per offense.
Employers can download a compliant poster here.
Compliance with the FMLA is mandatory for all covered employers. But compliance can be tricky if you’re not careful, and penalties and sanctions can be severe. Here are some of the common ways employers run afoul of the law.
1.) Failure to notify the employee (This is where that poster comes in, which serves as a ‘general notice.).
2.) Counting FMLA leave time against the employee in a disciplinary proceeding, such as a negative counseling statement.
3.) Penalizing employees in any way for taking FMLA leave.
4.) Failure to reinstate employees to the same level of seniority and/or responsibility following return from Family Medical Leave.
5.) Firing the employee while on leave, or upon returning.
6.) Failure to grant FMLA leave because the employer wrongly decided the condition did not qualify under the act.
7.) Failure to request medical certifications in writing.
8.) Failure to allow at least 15 days for the employee to obtain medical certification.
Need more information or help with FMLA or other wage and hour law compliance? Contact the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor at 1-866-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).