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New Guidelines Clarify the FMLA

April 28, 2016

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has always been a challenge for employees to administer. Employers with 50 or more employees are covered by the FMLA and are required to post a notice describing employees’ rights under the Act. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has created a new poster, which is expected to be released soon, that has improved readability so that employees can better understand its provisions. Employers are not required to use the updated poster if the previous version is posted.

The DOL has also issued a new comprehensive guide for employers regarding the FMLA. The guide is intended to cover several common issues that have previously perplexed employers. The DOL designed the guide specifically for employers, avoiding legalese or confusing terms. However, the appropriate statutes and regulations that govern each issue are provided for employers that wish to research these rules further.

Some of the key topics covered include:

    • Specific criteria on whether an employee or employer is covered by the FMLA;
    • Understanding who qualifies as one of the 50 employees required for coverage;
    • How and when employees are required to give a notice, for both foreseeable and unforeseeable leaves of absence;
    • Detailed qualifying circumstances for leave eligibility;
    • Examples of “serious health conditions” that entitle employees to leave;
    • Circumstances that require the employer to get certification, and procedures on obtaining the certification;
    • Qualifications for military leave, and qualifying exigencies while on active duty; and
  • Interactions with other related laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act,
    the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, COBRA, USERRA, and HIPAA.

The guide is available here. While the guide does not address every question or ambiguity about the FMLA, employers who are not familiar with the law’s provisions would greatly benefit from using the guide as an overview.

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