FMLA Guidelines for Employers: Requirements to Stay Compliant
Among the many legal obligations that employers have, one of the most important is the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA. Employees who experience a medical emergency involving a close family member are able to take time off from work without the risk of them losing their jobs. Being aware of FMLA rules ensures that you remain compliant and avoid legal troubles which ultimately affect the reputation and profitability of your business.
To better understand the FMLA guidelines for employers, let's delve deeper into the subject. It’s important to have a good base of knowledge so you’re prepared to answer questions about FMLA when employees bring them up.
What Is the FMLA?
The Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA is for employees who are suffering from or have a close family member suffering from a medical condition or illness. It allows employees to take time off from their job without fear of losing their position. Employers must follow FMLA rules as specified by the law to avoid lawsuits and fines.
An employee who has been deemed eligible for FMLA by submitting a request and providing proper documentation cannot be fired or forced to take a different position with responsibilities that are in no way similar to the job they temporarily left. Their job is protected by law with the same pay and benefits that were provided to them before their leave was granted.
What Does FMLA Provide?
FMLA provides employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave each year. Parents of newborns or newly adopted children can also take time off, but they must take the 12 weeks off all at once and are not permitted to take any remaining weeks off at a later date.
This rule doesn't apply for employees that are ill or caring for an ill family member; they can take time off at different times of the year as long as it remains under 12 weeks long in duration.
What are the Requirements to be Eligible for FMLA?
1. The employee requesting family or medical leave must have worked for at least 12 months. The time does not need to be consecutive, but it does require that there was no break in services lasting seven years or more.
2. At least 1,250 hours or the equivalent of 24 hours a week must be worked by the employee throughout the year.
3. Remote workers are covered as long as they meet the criteria above.
Keeping close track of hours worked allows you to see who is eligible for FMLA and who is not. Having access to accurate record keeping software prevents time clock errors from costing you big money or qualifying ineligible employees for FMLA.
Which Employers Does FMLA Apply to?
1. Private employers with 50 employees or more are covered by the FMLA. Those with fewer than 50 workers are not. However, they may be covered by the state's laws for family and medical leave. The exception to the under 50 employee rule applies to all governmental agencies as well as elementary and secondary schools.
2. Salaried workers have different requirements to fulfill to re-enter the workforce after leave. Even if they're eligible for FMLA, they could be replaced if they are within the top 10 percent of paid employees in their company working within 75 miles of the main workplace.
In Which Circumstances Can You Deny FMLA?
1. If an employee has not worked 12 months for you and completed the required 1,250 hours of work during that time frame, you can deny FMLA.
2. If they do not work within a 75-mile distance from your main office, they won't be eligible to claim family or medical leave.
3. Some circumstances, although dire in nature, do not qualify employees for FMLA. They cannot take time off to care for anyone but themselves, a spouse, a parent or a child. Siblings and other relatives are not considered immediate family.
4. Even if a person has a physical or mental health issue, it may not be considered serious until after a physician has deemed it to be. The claim must be medically certified. If the paperwork isn't completed in a 15-day timeframe, you can deny it even if the physician signed off on it. Employees who do not provide medical certification upon request can be denied FMLA.
Following FMLA Rules
As an employer, when an employee requests family or medical leave, there are things you'll need to do. The first is to determine the eligibility of the employee within five business days. Next, you'll provide them with FMLA rights and responsibilities and request medical certification if you deem necessary. The employee then has 15 calendar days to return paperwork to you so that they are cleared for FMLA and therefore granted leave.
What the Law Says
So, what does the law specifically say about FMLA? As long as you are an approved employer and the employee fulfills all requirements for leave, you must grant it to them.
Contacting your lawyer to become very clear about FMLA rules and regulations is highly recommended. Spending time familiarizing yourself with all the rules you must follow is imperative to ensure that you are being compliant.
How to Avoid FMLA Violations
The easiest way to avoid FMLA violations is to know whether or not you're an eligible employer. If you are, providing your employees with information about FMLA helps keep your company compliant. Answering all requests for family or medical leave within the timeframe dictated by law keeps you from being in violation of FMLA rules and regulations.
Knowing precisely how many hours an employee has worked throughout a 12-month period of employment can be quite tedious when you’re trying to determine FMLA eligibility. Thanks to software solutions such as ClockInEasy, you can export this information with great ease. Having digital timesheets to refer to makes FMLA compliance a seamless task.
There are many FMLA resources available on the web for you to take advantage of. Not only do they provide employers with valuable information, they're also the perfect resource to refer employees to. When something isn't clear, you can find the answer by referring to one of the many websites, fact sheets or handbooks online.
To learn more about FMLA and its requirements visit the websites below:
The Role ClockInEasy Plays in Employee Recordkeeping
ClockInEasy is a web-based tool with a mobile application that keeps track of employee hours on the clock through GPS and facial recognition. That way, employers can easily see who is logging hours at which particular jobsite to help decrease the likelihood of human error related to timekeeping.
By keeping close tabs on the hours worked by every employee, you'll know right away who is eligible for FMLA via the FMLA guidelines for employers. Being in control of the information needed to submit time off for family or medical leave empowers employees and makes them proactive in the process.
What You Can Do to Help Make Employees Aware of FMLA Guidelines
Now that you know what the FMLA guidelines are for employers, you'll be sure to stay compliant. The last thing an employee in need wants to face is unfair dismissal from their position because the FMLA guidelines were not clearly mentioned or followed. Providing them with access to this information helps alleviate the burden of choosing between caring for a loved one and keeping the job they worked so hard to obtain.
It also gives new parents the opportunity to bond with their children and settle into a new way of life before returning to the workforce. This can make the transition easier because they've had a good amount of time to spend with their child before going back to work.