Last year, that all changed. That’s when the first major overhaul of the FMLA took effect.
You can’t afford to make a mistake when administering FMLA leave. If a worker files an FMLA lawsuit against your organization, the stakes are high. You may end up paying back wages and benefits, the employee’s attorney fees and court costs—or double the amount if a court deems your violation was willful. Even worse, in some cases courts can hold supervisors personally liable when employees are not granted the unpaid leave they are entitled to under the law.
Use this Special Report to figure out how the FMLA works, what regulations have changed and double-check your record-keeping to ensure you're in compliance with the law. FMLA Compliance Guide: Practical Advice on Managing Family and Medical LeaveHere are the most important changes:
1. New military caregiver leave. Employees are allowed to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave in each 12-month period to care for family members who suffered a serious injury or illness while on active military duty.
2. New leave for families of National Guard and Reserve members. Families of National Guard and Reserve personnel on active duty are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave per year to manage their affairs.
3. Revised definition of a “serious condition.” The new regulations tinker with the definition of an FMLA-qualifying “serious health condition.” The law says a serious condition must involve more than three consecutive calendar days of incapacity plus “two visits to a health care provider.”
4. Direct contact with doctor allowed. Good news: The new regulations allow employers to directly contact an employee’s health care provider to seek clarification about information on an employee’s FMLA certification form.
The FMLA Compliance Guide will explain in plain English the seven issues you must cover – in writing – with an employee requesting FMLA leave, whether you can legally fire someone who is on FMLA leave, and an amazingly simple strategy that prevents employees from taking 24 weeks of back-to-back leave. Get the FMLA Guide now...5. New employer notice obligations. In addition to conspicuously posting a notice about your FMLA and complaint-filing procedures, you must provide the same notice in your employee handbooks (or distribute a copy of your FMLA policy upon hire).
The good news: Employers will now be given five business days—instead of two—to send out FMLA eligibility and designation notices to employees.
6. Less leeway for employees’ notice. Previously, the law was interpreted to allow employees to give notice of their need for FMLA leave up to two business days after being out on FMLA leave, even if they could have given notice earlier. But the new rules say that, in most cases, employees who take intermittent FMLA leave must follow their employer's call-in procedures for reporting an absence, unless there are unusual circumstances.
7. Settlement of past FMLA claims allowed. The rules clarify that employees can retroactively (typically as part of a severance or settlement agreement) volunteer to settle their FMLA claims with their employers without getting court or DOL approval. Prospective waivers of FMLA rights will continue to be prohibited.
8. Light duty doesn’t count as FMLA leave. The rules make clear that the time employees spend performing “light-duty” work does not count toward their 12 weeks of FMLA entitlement. (This was included because at least two courts ruled that employees used up their 12 weeks of FMLA leave while on light-duty assignments after FMLA leave.)
9. Perfect-attendance awards can be denied. Employers can deny perfect-attendance awards to employees who take FMLA leave (and thus are absent) as long as they treat employees taking non-FMLA leave the same way.
The FMLA Compliance Guide is guaranteed to give you concrete answers to your most perplexing FMLA questions. You'll learn:
- An amazingly simple strategy that prevents employees from taking 24 weeks of back-to-back leave
- How to kick-start the 12-week FMLA meter
- The one situation where you can legally deny reinstatement after FMLA leave
- 4 tests to determine if several closely held companies will trigger compliance with the 50-employee minimum
- When you can expect to receive money back from an employee on FMLA leave
- A simple formula for determining if a part-time employee is eligible under the law
- 7 issues you must cover – in writing – with an employee requesting leave
- The 3 most important steps you can take to make sure your company is in compliance with the FMLA
- Whether or not you can legally fire someone who’s away on FMLA leave
- How to prove you acted in “good faith” and avoid paying a lot in liquidated damages
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- Factor Lower Health Care Cost Growth into 2009 Budgets
- 'Where's my promotion?'
- DIY health care reform: Create inexpensive, effective wellness programs
- Charitable donation OK in lieu of union dues