DOL Updates Optional FMLA Forms

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 20, 2020

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has made changes to several of its Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms intended to make them simpler and easier to use for employers and employees alike.

Key changes include:

  • Electronic signature features to help employers reduce personal contact;
  • More questions that users can answer by checking a box rather than by writing a response in a text field; and
  • Additional information about the substitution of paid leave on the eligibility notice form.

The DOL said these and other changes will "reduce the time users spend providing information, improve communications between leave applicants and administrators and reduce the likelihood of violations."

Notice Obligations

There are several notification obligations for both employers and employees under the FMLA.

For example, when employees request time off that qualifies, or may qualify, as FMLA leave, employers must notify them about whether they are eligible for FMLA leave within five business days of their request. Each time an employer must provide the eligibility notice to an employee, it must also provide a rights and responsibilities notice.

Similarly, an employer may require employees requesting FMLA leave to present an appropriate certification of the underlying facts that form the basis for the leave.

Employers and employees may use either the DOL's optional-use forms or their own forms (including the DOL's older versions of the forms); but if they use their own forms, they must provide the same basic notice information and require only the same basic certification information.

DOL Asks Employers: What Would You Change About the FMLA?

In addition to updating its forms, the DOL also is soliciting feedback from the public about the FMLA as it prepares to improve its regulations to:

  • Better protect and suit the needs of workers; and
  • Reduce administrative and compliance burdens on employers.

In particular, the DOL asked employers to inform that about what they "would like to see changed in the FMLA regulations to better effectuate the rights and obligations under the FMLA."

Employers have until September 15 to submit comment, and may do so online under Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1235-AA30 or by mailing written submissions to:

Amy DeBisschop, Director, Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation

Wage and Hour Division, US Department of Labor, Room S-3502

200 Constitution Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20210

All submissions must include the name of the agency and the RIN 1235-AA31.

The DOL is not seeking comment on the amended FMLA protections provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).