DOL Provides Tips for Staying Compliant With FMLA

Managing family and medical leave laws are complex, which makes compliance difficult. Having sound policies and practices is critical.

Businesses with at least 50 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to eligible workers to treat their own illness, to care for a sick relative or for baby bonding. Employees who work at a location where the business employs at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius are eligible for leave if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and for 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. Click here for the full text of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Human resources experts say it is important to define the 12-month period. Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period — but the 12-month period can be measured as a calendar year, a fixed 12-month period, or as a rolling 12-month period from the date the employee uses any FMLA leave.

Some employers require an employee to be cleared to return to full duty after FMLA leave, which could create a problem. Employers may have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide a reasonable accommodation, after a employee’s FMLA leave ends.

Employers should also look at whether employees are eligible for additional leave as a potential accommodation under the ADA.

Some states have additional and/or more stringent family and medical leave laws, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, according to the Department of Labor. Washington, DC also has its own family and medical leave laws.

Some state laws expand the amount of leave that may be taken or add to the definition of covered