The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) ensures job-protected leave for eligible employees and applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. However, FMLA administration can be challenging for employers. As an employer, you have many responsibilities that are important for staying in compliance with the FMLA. These can range from accurately tracking time off to obtaining proper documentation to maintaining health insurance coverage for the employee during his or her leave. By understanding your company’s responsibilities, you can stay in compliance and also provide employees with time they need to take care of serious medical and family issues.
While you should always consult with your company’s human resources and/or legal departments when dealing with such matters, as an employer covered by FMLA you generally are required to:
- Administer a program in compliance with federal and, if applicable, state and city regulations. Compliance requirements include accurate tracking of FMLA-eligible leaves and the timely delivery of employee notifications.
- Grant a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a defined 12-month period (or 26 workweeks of unpaid leave to care for a service member). When granting an employee FMLA leave, you may require medical certification issued by a health care provider.
- Permit an employee to take intermittent leave to care for a seriously ill family member or for the employee’s own serious health condition.
- Post U.S. Department of Labor notices that explain rights and responsibilities under the FMLA at all work site locations. In addition, the notice must be distributed to each employee (in hard copy or electronic format) in an employee handbook or upon hire.
- Guarantee the employee’s reinstatement to the same or comparable position upon his or her return from leave.
- Maintain group health insurance coverage, including family coverage, for an employee on FMLA leave, and provide the same benefits as those provided prior to the employee’s request for leave.
- Acknowledge receipt and provide written notification of an employee’s leave request within five business days after receiving the request.
Employers also are expected to answer employee questions about FMLA and must maintain files in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) record-keeping requirements.
There are several city, state, and federal regulations that protect employees when they need to take time off for their own illness, the illness of a family member, and circumstances surrounding a qualified service member. Work closely with your benefits, legal, and/or compliance departments, and refer to the U.S. Department of Labor, state, and city websites for current leave regulations to ensure that your company is compliant.