Navigating the Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance

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The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a crucial law that allows qualified employees to take time off work for certain family and medical reasons without risking their job security.  However, FMLA compliance can be complex. The below outline some key provisions of FMLA.

Understanding FMLA:

Enacted in 1993, FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons. These reasons include the birth and care of a newborn child, the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or attending to the employee’s own serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform essential job functions

Determining Employee Eligibility:

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, accumulated at least 1,250 hours of service in the preceding 12 months, and work at a location where the employer employs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Employer Obligations:

Employers covered by the FMLA must comply with its provisions, which include providing eligible employees with job-protected leave and maintaining group health benefits during the FMLA leave period.

Notice and Certification:

When an employee requests FMLA leave, employers can require the employee to provide notice and submit medical certification, if applicable, to support the need for leave. Employers must respond promptly to leave requests and provide employees with the necessary FMLA paperwork within specified timeframes.

Intermittent and Reduced Schedule Leave:

FMLA leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis when medically necessary.

Job Restoration:

Upon returning from FMLA leave, employees are generally entitled to be reinstated to their former position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and terms of employment.

Penalties for Non-Compliance:

Failure to comply with FMLA requirements can result in legal consequences, including monetary damages, fines, and potential lawsuits. Employers found in violation of the FMLA may be liable for back pay, reinstatement, attorneys’ fees, and other remedies.