April 25, 2016
Ta da! Today the U.S. Department of Labor unveiled its long-awaited, brand-spankin’-new Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The DOL has been promising this Guide for close to two years.
FMLA Branch Chief Helen Applewhaite, speaking today in Pittsburgh at the annual FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference hosted by Disability Management Employer Coalition, shared some features of the new employer resource.
The Guide closely follows the FMLA regulations but the information is presented in a much more user-friendly format. Key topics covered include:
- Covered employers
- Employee eligibility
- Employer notice obligations
- Qualifying leave reasons (including specific sections on military exigencies and caring for a servicemember)
- The certification process
- Managing the FMLA leave (calculating usage, continued benefits, etc.)
- Job restoration
- Recordkeeping requirements
- Interaction with other laws
In addition to using simpler language than one finds in the regulations (legalese, be gone!) the Guide uses several tools to make the material more understandable to employers. These include, for example:
- “Did You Know?” bullets that call out specific points the DOL wants to bring to employers’ attention
- Citations to supporting regulations for those who want more information or the exact language
- Story boards illustrating particular processes (no, they are not “comic strips”!). Here’s an example of how to handle an incomplete certification:
- Links to DOL forms and notices on the DOL website
- Charts providing information in easily digested format, like this one addressing some of the information an employer can require for intermittent leave:
- Flowcharts demonstrating processes, like this one showing the steps in dealing with an employee’s certification:
The Employer’s Guide does not break any new ground or answer the tough questions not covered by the FMLA regulations (and there are many of those, right?). That is not the DOL’s style. New or detailed guidance on FMLA typically comes through new regulations or the too-rare Administrator Interpretations.So let’s all check out the new Guide, use it, and discover whether it is a helpful tool for you. The DOL expects this to be a dynamic document and welcomes employer comments and suggestions for future enhancements.
Matrix Can Help! Even with the new Employer’s Guide, managing FMLA leaves remains tricky and complicated business. Add in various state leave laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, worker’s compensation, and company policies and you have a perfect storm of challenging employee rights. At Matrix we are experts in these state and federal laws. We specialize in understanding how they work together and in keeping up to date so you don’t have to. For leave management and accommodation assistance, call Matrix at 800-866-2301.