The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which is commonly known as the FMLA, provides up to 12 weeks of leave for employees who need time to care for a sick spouse, child or elderly parent. The leave is unpaid, and the FMLA also allows the time to be used for bonding with a newborn child or dealing with certain personal health conditions. These laws require certain notice to be given by both employer and employee regarding this leave. These notification rules apply for companies with 50 or more employees employed for at least 20 weeks of the current or proceeding year, even if they do not currently have employees eligible for FMLA leave time. Understanding and complying with federal FMLA guidelines is imperative for legal safety. Four types of notices are required by law.
Federal regulations require all employers to post a general notice informing employees of the FMLA and explaining the procedures for obtaining leave. The posting must also include instructions for filing a claim if an employee feels that their FMLA rights have been infringed upon. This notice must be posted in a visible area that is accessible to all applicants and employees. Part of the announcement must include definitions and explanations for certain terms set forth in the laws:
- Serious health conditions
- Military leave entitlements
- Employee responsibilities
- Employer obligations
This information must also be included in any policies and procedures documentation. The federal Department of Labor, some state entities and the Small Business Administration provide printable posters including all the necessary details. Penalties are in place for companies that fail to comply with proper posting guidelines.
Rights and Responsibilities Notice
This document is intended to clarify employer policies and provide information regarding FMLA-related topics. It should spell out procedures regarding coordinating paid leave with FMLA time and describe the types of return-to-work certification, such as a Fitness-for-Duty Certification, that will be required for employees who miss work for personal medical issues. The payment of healthcare premiums and other pertinent topics should also be covered in this document.
After an employee submits a request for FMLA leave, the employer must respond with an eligibility notice. Employers have five business days following the request to provide this document and it must include several important components. First, the document must state whether the employee is considered eligible for leave under the FMLA. If it is determined that the worker does not qualify for this time, a reason must be given. There are several instances in which this may occur:
- The employee has not yet been employed by the company for 12 months.
- The worker has not logged at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the time off.
- The employer does not employ at least 50 individuals for 20 or more weeks per year.
If it is determined that the individual qualifies for FMLA leave, the eligibility notice must also inform him or her of his or her right to use accrued paid time off in conjunction with the FMLA time.
Once it has been determined that the employee qualifies for FMLA leave time, the company must provide a designation notice with further information about the 12 weeks of available time. The employer has five business days from the time that the designation is made to provide this documentation to the worker. The document should include a statement about whether the employer will use paid time in conjunction with FMLA leave. It should also list the amount of time that is to be deducted from the employee’s 12-week balance if the extent of leave time is known. If the length of time off is unknown, the employee may request a statement any time during leave (but not more than once per 30 days) indicating the balance of FMLA time left. This remainder may be included on a regular pay stub.
Posting the necessary information and drafting proper documentation within the time limits ensures compliance with the law.
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