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
The US Supreme Court declined to review challenges to three federal appeals court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, which also cleared the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Bans also fell in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.
The Los Angeles City Council on October 6 passed a new ordinance that will require hotels in Los Angeles to provide workers a minimum wage and paid time off, effective 2015 or 2016, depending on the size and location of the hotel.
Florida employers with 50 or more employees in Miami-Dade County seeking to show their compliance with Miami-Dade's family and medical leave ordinance should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
A federal district court upheld Louisiana's statute and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while a Louisiana state court ruled that these laws are unconstitutional.
Maryland employers that provide paid leaves and has 15 or more employees primarily employed in Maryland for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers with 50 or more employees for 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year and that are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld recent lower court decisions invalidating Indiana's and Wisconsin's laws banning same-sex marriage.
A federal court declares Florida's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but the decision is stayed pending appeal.
The Minimum Wage, FMLA and Other Leaves sections of the Employment Law Manual have been updated after the San Diego City Council overrode a veto of its new minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinance.
An employer must go to trial on a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference claim because an employee denied receiving an FMLA designation notice sent via first class mail. Without evidence of actual proof of delivery, a jury must decide the case, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held in Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
HR and legal consideration for complying with and administering FMLA leave. Guidance and support on following all of the FMLA rules and regulations.