What Every Employer Needs to Know about FMLA Leave

Author: Kenneth Sprang
To be eligible for Family Medical Leave Act leave, an employee must have worked for the employer at least 12 months or worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months or worked at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Read this article to learn what every employer needs to know about FMLA leave.
1. Intermittent Leave
Intermittent leave is leave taken in separate blocks of time for single qualifying reason. Leave may be taken intermittently when medically necessary due to the serious health condition of a covered family member or the employee or the serious injury or illness of a covered service member. If an employee needs leave intermittently for planned medical treatment, then employee must make reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt employer's operations.
2. Reduced Leave Schedule
Reduced leave schedule reduces employee's working hours per workweek, or hours per workday normally from full-time to part-time.Employees may take FMLA leave on a reduced schedule basis when medically necessary due to the serious health condition of a covered family member or the employee or the serious injury or illness of a covered service member.Employees may also take FMLA leave on a reduced schedule basis when necessary because of a qualifying exigency related to a covered service member. If an employee needs a reduced leave schedule for planned medical treatment, then employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operations.
3. Employers Subject to the FMLA
Employers with 50 or more employees in commerce or 20 or more workweeks in last year are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers are required to post (and keep posted) a notice on the premises explaining the FMLA and providing information on how to file FMLA-based complaints.
4. Joint Employers
Normally legal entity which employs the employee is the employer under FMLA. For FMLA purposes, if one corporation has ownership interest in another corporation, it is a separate employer unless it is part of joint employment or is an integrated employer.Employees jointly employed by two employers and employees of all entities making up integrated employer are counted in determining employer coverage and employee eligibility.
5. General Notice by Employers
Every employer is required to post notice on the premises explaining FMLA and procedures for filing FMLA-based complaints.If employer's workforce is comprised of significant percentage of workers not literate in English, the employer is required to provide General Notice in language in which employees are literate. In addition, must provide notice to each employee through Employee Handbook, or Other written guidance to employees concerning employee benefits or leave rights, if such written materials exist, or Distributing copy of general notice to each new employee upon hiring.
6. Notice of Eligibility, Rights & Responsibilities
When employee requests leave or when employer learns that employee’s leave may qualify for FMLA, employer must give notice to employee within five (5) business days of employee rights to maintain health benefits, and a method to make arrangements to continue any necessary premium payments. It also gives notice on the company policy on use of other leave; key employees who may not have their job protected; requirements for status updates and the employee’s intent to return to work; and an overview of the rights of employees on FMLA leave.
7. Forms to be adopted
The forms to be adopted include: 1) Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition 2) Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition 3) Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities 4) Designation Notice 5) Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave 6) Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Service Member -- for Military Family Leave.
8. Establishing 12-Month Period
Employees have right to FMLA leave for up to 12 weeks every 12 months. Employers have choices in establishing 12 month periods. Employers may choose any one of following methods:Calendar year.Any fixed 12-month "leave year.”The 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins; or“Rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave for Military Caregiver. Leave must measure forward from date of first FMLA leave.
9. Notifying Employees of Leave Approval
When employer is able to determine whether leave qualifies under FMLA, it must notify the employee within five business days. Notice must inform employee of the amount of time to be counted against leave entitlement; notification required if dates of scheduled leave change or are extended, or were initially unknown; whether any paid leave taken will count against FMLA leave entitlement; whether employee must use paid leave during FMLA leave; whether fitness for duty certificate will be required, whether employer will exercise right to 2d or 3d medical certification.
10. Health Benefits during FMLA Leave
Employees on FMLA leave must have a minimum 30-day grace period to make premium payments. If employee does not make timely payments after its grace period, group health insurance may be cancelled, upon at least 15 days written notification before the date health coverage will lapse. Employers may choose to pay employee’s share of premiums during FMLA leave, and recover payments when the employee returns to work. Employee may revoke participation in cafeteria plan. Employer generally recovers premiums it paid during leave if employee does not return to work.

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