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 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (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' equivalent leave laws expand who is considered a covered family member for family medical leave purposes. For example, several states include domestic partners, grandparents, siblings and aunts and uncles. With the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) struck down and many states legalizing same-sex marriage, employers in those states must understand that employees may be eligible for FMLA leave to care for their same-sex spouse.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
This Legal Insight examines the intersection of rights that has been referred to in publications and presentations as "The Bermuda Triangle," and includes a discussion of FMLA, the ADA and workers' compensation laws.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
Oregon amended the Oregon Family Leave Act regulations, effective immediately.
When an employee requests leave for health, medical, parenting, or military reasons, the employer must determine whether the leave qualifies for FMLA leave. If the time off requested qualifies for FMLA leave, the employer is required to provide the employee with specific notice and information regarding the employee's eligibility, rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally serves as a baseline for covered employers when implementing leave policies. When the provisions of an employer's leave policy intersect with the FMLA, the employer should be careful when handling leaves of absence and should administer both the FMLA and the employer's leave policies equitably and in compliance with the law.
California employers that employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act and should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The Pulaski County Circuit Court has ordered Arkansas to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in the state between May 9 and May 16, 2014.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Arkansas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of California employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Maryland employment law requirements HR must follow in respect to FMLA.
HR and legal consideration for complying with and administering FMLA leave. Guidance and support on following all of the FMLA rules and regulations.