DOL Releases Updated FMLA Resources

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 29, 2016

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has released an Employer Guide to assist employers in complying with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In addition, the DOL has released a new version of the FMLA workplace poster. However, an employer that continues to post the February 2013 version of the poster will remain in compliance.

The 76-page Guide provides essential information about the FMLA, including the options available to employers in administering leave. The Guide covers:

  • Covered employers under the FMLA and their general notice requirements;
  • When an employee needs FMLA leave;
  • Qualifying reasons for leave;
  • The certification process;
  • Military family leave;
  • Protections available during an employee's FMLA leave; and
  • Prohibited actions by employers.

The Guide will be available for print ordering in June 2016.

The resource briefly discusses some of the more challenging aspects of administering leave benefits, which deal with the FMLA's interaction with other federal and state laws, as well as with an employer's policies. Although the DOL's resource draws attention to this interplay, employers may have difficulty in tracking the fast pace of the changes in the legal landscape. Over the past year:

  • A number of states have expanded workplace protections for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, and the Supreme Court issued its Young v. UPS opinion addressing the issue;
  • State and municipal paid leave laws continue to flourish;
  • A number of states (including Idaho, Indiana and West Virginia) have expanded coverage of military leave laws; and
  • Courts have clarified the standards for individual liability under the FMLA.

In addition to these complexities, employers in a unionized or partially unionized workplace must also consider applicable collective bargaining obligations.

The Wage and Hour Division actively investigates allegations of FMLA violations, and may find systemic violations if an employer fails to enforce protocols that are compliant with the law's requirements (e.g., reinstatement rights and continuation of benefits while on leave).