Attendance   ·  

6 Things You Need to Know About FMLA and Your Employees

Quick information on setting FMLA leave policies as part of your employee attendance policy, including new military FMLA employee attendance rules.

Employees who work for a company where 50 or more employees are employed within 75 miles of their worksite are eligible for FMLA protection if they have been employed by your company:

  • For at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive months)
  • For at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of an employee absence request
  1. What does the FMLA provide? Employers covered by the FMLA must grant an eligible employee up to 12 workweeks of unpaid employee absence (or leave) during a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
    • For the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
    • For the adoption of a child or children for a new foster care placement in the employee’s home
    • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition
    • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
    • When the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.

    Generally, FMLA leave is unpaid. However, eligible employees can choose to use (or “substitute”) earned or accrued paid leave or an employer may require it. Unless state law prohibits it, an employer can force its employees to substitute paid leave, so long as the practice is enforced consistently with all FMLA-qualifying employee absences.

  2. Longer coverage for Military FMLA benefits The FMLA also provides eligible employees with up to 26 workweeks of job-protected leave to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces or covered veteran and who is undergoing medical treatment or recuperating from a serious injury or illness incurred while on active duty.
  3. Group health insurance and the FMLA During an employee’s FMLA leave, you are required to maintain any pre-existing group health insurance coverage.
  4. Coming back to work after FMLA leave Upon returning from an FMLA leave of absence, the employee is entitled to be restored to his/her original position or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, including substantially similar duties and responsibilities.In addition, during FMLA-qualifying absences, employees may not be penalized for violating the employer’s employee attendance policy, nor can the employee absences be used as evidence of an employee absenteeism problem for disciplinary or dismissal purposes.
  5. What you cannot do when an employee requests or uses FMLA leave FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to: Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA; Discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.If you as an employer violate FMLA rules, your employee may file an FMLA complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against you.
  6. Your obligation to know if an absence is covered under the FMLA Be aware that an employee who asks for time off for a medical reason or to care for a family member may be entitled to FMLA leave (or state law protection) even though he/she never mentions the “FMLA.” It is your responsibility – not the employee’s – to know when the laws are triggered and how to respond.

If an employee asks for time off for any FMLA-related reason, you should determine whether the absence is entitled to FMLA coverage, and contact the employee with that information. If you are uncertain about an employee’s eligibility, check with a labor law attorney or human resource specialist before denying the request for time off.

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