Employers should never take a leave from dealing with the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA’s) requirements. The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12 month period for specified family and medical reasons. It guarantees continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Check out these common sense tips for managing FMLA.
Managers sometimes fail to tell HR right away when an employee is out on leave for an extended period. If a manager waits a week to inform HR, that could delay the start of the 12-week FMLA period. The employer can’t make the FMLA leave retroactive. Additionally, letting the employee take more than 12 weeks of leave impacts staffing and productivity. Effectively managing FMLA requires proactive measures to ensure time is properly entered and accounted for. MITC allows employees to request FMLA like any other benefit time. If the manager fails to act on the request, the Manager is reminded and HR notified. The employee is not paid for these hours but the hours are tracked.
No Exact Count of Use of FMLA Leave
Another common mistake in managing FMLA is failing to keep an exact track of an employee’s use of FMLA leave, particularly in regards to intermittent leave. An employer might give the employee more FMLA leave than entitled to. MITC Workforce Management allows organizations to track FMLA. Total hours allowed (480), hours taken, and hours remaining can be tracked. As employees are allowed to take FMLA in as little as 15 minute increments, having a robust, accurate system in place is important.
Train Supervisors on Managing FMLA
Untrained supervisors might not handle FMLA requests appropriately, and may be in violation of the FMLA. Just because front-line supervisors shouldn’t administer FMLA leave doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be trained on managing FMLA.
Employers sometimes fail to provide required notices to employees. FMLA requires employers to provide four notices to employees seeking FMLA leave. Employers may run afoul of the law by failing to provide these notices. Employers must give a general notice of FMLA rights. They must provide an eligibility notice within five days of the leave request. They must supply a rights and responsibilities notice at the same time as the eligibility notice. And employers must give a designation notice within five business days of determining that leave qualifies as FMLA leave.
Overly Broad Coverage
Sometimes employers provide FMLA leave in situations that are not truly FMLA-covered. If the employer counts that time off as FMLA leave, this could prove to be a violation of the law. A violation could occur if the employee later has an event that falls under FMLA which is denied due to time already taken.
Employers sometimes accept certifications of a serious health condition that are incomplete and inconsistent. In particular organizations sometimes make the mistake of accepting certifications that do not state the frequency and duration of the intermittent leave that is needed.
No Exact Count of Use of FMLA Leave
Another common mistake in managing FMLA is failing to keep an exact track of an employee’s use of FMLA leave, particularly in regards to intermittent leave. An employer might give the employee more FMLA leave than entitled to. MITC Workforce Management allows organizations to track FMLA.
Being Lax About FMLA Abuse
The FMLA is ripe for employee abuse. Some employers find themselves with large numbers of employees with certified intermittent leave. Those employers need a plan to keep all employees honest with respect to their use of FMLA.
Overlooking the ADA
Employers sometimes fail to realize that a serious health condition that requires 12 weeks of FMLA leave may also constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even after 12 weeks of FMLA leave, more leave may be required by the ADA or state or local law as a reasonable accommodation.
Employers should have a written FMLA policy. If employers adopt a written policy that is circulated to employees, the employer is able to select the terms most advantageous to the employer. For example, employers can choose to use a rolling 12-month period (rolling forward from the time any leave commences) rather than leaving the selection of the 12-month period to employees, who almost inevitably would choose the 12-month calendar period. The calendar period, unlike the rolling period, allows for employees to stack leave during the last 12 weeks of one year and the first 12 weeks of the new year.
MITC FMLA Solutions
- Employees can request FMLA from any location using any internet enabled device. FMLA requests go to the employee’s manager for approval. On approval, non-payable records go through to the employee’s time and attendance records. If the employee is scheduled to work, their shifts are automatically re-opened.
- Thereafter, either the manager or HR can document additional hours the employee is on FMLA. In the event that a manager fails to respond to the employee’s request promptly, an alert is automatically generated. A complete history of FMLA requests is automatically maintained. The employee is not paid for these hours but the hours are tracked.
- A balance of the hours allowed can be established and automatically updated by FMLA transactions whether initiated by the employee, their manager, or HR. For example, if the employee has taken 200 hours the remaining balance would be 280 hours. A detailed record of all transactions is retained.
- If the employee requests more than 480 hours of FMLA, the request will be blocked.
- HR can enter the 480 hours into the employee record when the FMLA time commences.