Federal and state governments require employers to provide certain protections to their employees. Employer responsibilities vary depending on the size of their organization. One of these compliance challenges that employers must navigate is Family and Medical Leave. But, are you required to offer FMLA to your employees? Let’s take a look.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
In 1993, the government passed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in order to protect employees from termination due to extended leave for certain medical scenarios. This act provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for serious family health issues or situations. Situations covered under FMLA include:
- foster care placement
- family or personal illness
- military leave
Additionally, FMLA guarantees that when an employee returns to work, they can return to the job they held before the leave or a job that is essentially equal in pay and status. Furthermore, Family Medical Leave states that employers must continue to carry insurance benefits for these employees.
Am I required to provide FMLA to my employees?
Your business MUST provide FMLA to your eligible employees if you are a:
- private employer with 50 or more employees, and
- have been in business for 20 or more workweeks in the current of preceding calendar year.
The Department of Labor classifies eligible employees as those who:
- have worked for their employer at least 12 months,
- worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months,
- and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
When counting the number of employees in your business, be sure to include any employee who appears on your payroll any day of the calendar week. This includes employees that did not receive any compensation for that week. Once your business meets the above requirements, you must offer FMLA until you are below 50 employees for 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
If your business is considered a public or educational agency, your employees must receive FMLA coverage regardless of the number of employees you have.
How should businesses proceed?
Should you business reach the 50 employee threshold, be sure to know your requirements surrounding FMLA. Some of the responsibilities include:
- Employers must hang the FMLA labor law poster in a visible area in the workplace.
- When an employee requests leave for a reason that might qualify for FMLA, the employer has five business days to provide notice about their FMLA eligibility, rights, and responsibilities.
- If the employee is eligible, in most cases, the employer should provide a certification form and, if the leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee’s job description when they provide the notice of FMLA eligibility, rights, and responsibilities.
- Once you have enough information to know that the employee’s leave is for an FMLA-qualifying reason, you have five business days to provide the employee a designation notice. This notice tells the employee whether their leave—and, if known, how much—will be counted as FMLA.
You can find an informational packet and sample forms here.
Please contact us to learn more about how we can help with FMLA and other labor law compliance.