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.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
Hawaii governor David Ige signed a flurry of bills into law on July 5, including several affecting employers. The measures included a salary history inquiry ban, a law preserving certain Affordable Care Act benefits under state law, authorization for a study to analyze and propose a paid family leave law, and a bill increasing certain workers' compensation benefits.
Updated to reflect amendments to the state paid sick leave law regarding coverage of in-home supportive services workers, effective July 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect the state paid sick leave law, effective July 1, 2018.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law on June 28, 2018.
Updated to reflect revisions to the Seattle paid sick and safe time administrative rules, effective July 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect the Pregnancy Accommodations Act, effective May 17, 2018.
Updated to include information on a case regarding the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.
HR and legal consideration for complying with and administering FMLA leave. Guidance and support on following all of the FMLA rules and regulations.