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Human resource alert: FMLA – Five essentials every manager needs to know

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March 7, 2012

Contact: Elizabeth Hall, Online Publisher 
(800) 543-2055  (703) 905-8000

Human Resource Alert: FMLA - Five Essentials Every Manager Needs to Know

Falls Church, Va. —  When employees request time off because of a health condition or to care for a family member’s health problem, companies, their HR staff and their managers need to know whether that leave could qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
According Business Management Daily, “The 1993 law allows qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for their own 'serious' health condition or to care for an immediate family member who has a 'serious' condition.”
“Employees don’t specifically need to cite the law or say they need ‘FMLA leave,’” says Business Management Daily Senior Editor, Elizabeth Hall. “It’s your responsibility as the employer to identify leave requests that could qualify as job-protected FMLA leave. If you suspect a leave request could qualify, you should notify HR right away.”
What a company doesn’t know about the FMLA can hurt you. Here are five ‘must knows’ for every business:
1.    Which employees are eligible? To be eligible for unpaid leave, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and logged at least 1,250 hours of service (slightly more than 24 hours per week).
2.    How much leave is allowed? Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period. The law refers to unpaid leave; it doesn’t require paid leave during those 12 weeks.
3.    What’s an ‘illegal’ manager action? You can’t prohibit eligible employees from taking FMLA leave. Nor are you allowed to consider FMLA leave as a negative factor in any employment action, such as hiring, firing, promotion or discipline. You also can’t punish employees for complaining about a violation of the law. After FMLA leave is over, employees must be able to return to the same or an equivalent position with equal pay, benefits and perks. The new position must involve the same or substantially similar duties, responsibilities and authority as the pre-leave position.
4.    What reasons qualify for leave? Child care - To care for the employee’s child after birth, adoption or foster care. (Both women and men can take FMLA leave for birth and adoption.) Family illness - To care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent who has a “serious” health condition. Own illness - For the employee’s own “serious” condition that makes him or her unable to perform the job.
5.    What is considered a ‘serious’ health condition? The law defines a “serious condition” as one that requires in-patient hospital care or causes a three-day incapacity with continuing treatment by a health care provider. That can include heart attacks, most cancers, back conditions that require extensive therapy, strokes, spinal injuries, certain respiratory conditions, severe arthritis and injuries resulting from accidents. Pregnancy, morning sickness, prenatal care, childbirth and recovery from childbirth also qualify. Courts are constantly debating which ailments qualify as “serious” and which don’t. Employers have the right to demand medical certification from a doctor to make a decision on whether a condition qualifies.
“In light of the new FMLA regulations,” Hall says, “make sure you amend your organization’s policies, update your employee handbook and revisit how you track FMLA intermittent leave.”
For more information and the full article containing all seven FMLA ‘must knows’, visit http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/28721/what-managers-need-to-know-about-the-fmla-7-essential-points?src=SONAR-RCLP-HR-FMLAIntermittent

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