Overview: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed to help employees achieve a balance between work and family responsibilities, by giving eligible employees a reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, and to promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.
FMLA leave can be an administrative challenge for employers because employees may take leave in a single block of consecutive days or on an intermittent or reduced-schedule basis. In addition, the FMLA has strict rules in many areas, such as:
When an employee requests, takes, or returns from FMLA leave, the employer must also be sure to comply with numerous other overlapping laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Workers' Compensation.
In addition, several states have laws that provide family and medical leave rights to employees working for employers with fewer employees than what is required by the FMLA, offer a longer period of leave beyond the FMLA's 12 weeks, provide leave for conditions and circumstances not covered by the FMLA, or even offer certain levels of wage replacement in some circumstances.
When considering any issues relating to the FMLA, employers must check to see if their state law also applies.
Trends: The EEOC is targeting employers that have policies that require termination of employees who previously qualified for leave under the FMLA but whose medical conditions prevent them from returning to work when they exhaust their 12-week leave entitlement.
The EEOC contends that employers must engage in the ADA's interactive process with employees in such situations in order to determine whether or not the employee has a disability and may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation (including extended leave) that would enable the employee to perform his or her essential job functions.
Therefore, an employer should not include language in its FMLA policy that indicates that employees who fail to return from FMLA leave will be subject to automatic termination.
Many states are expanding who is considered a covered family member under the FMLA. For example, several states include domestic partners, grandparents, brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
In-depth review of the spectrum of Hawaii employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
An Ohio federal court ruled that "crying spells" were sufficient for an employee to take FMLA leave and found that the employer's dubious response to the leave may have violated the FMLA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Illinois employment law requirements HR must follow in respect to FMLA.
As mandated by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, every employer covered by the Oregon Family Leave Act must post the Oregon Family Leave Act poster.
As mandated by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, every employer covered by the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act must post the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act poster.
As mandated by the Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division, Employers with 50 or more employees must post the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act poster.
Employers should use this letter after providing an employee with notice of conditional granting of FMLA leave and provision of Certification of Health Care Provider when the employee fails to timely return the Certification.
Employers should use this letter when an employee advises the employer of a condition that may qualify for FMLA leave but the employee is ineligible for FMLA leave.
In-depth review of the spectrum of California employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
Employers should use this letter when any portion of the employee's Certification is missing information or is unsigned by either the employee or the health care provider.
HR and legal consideration on complying with and administering FMLA leave. Guidance and support on following all of the FMLA rules and regulations.