The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires all non-exempt employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for certain employees. While this may seem a simple law, the truth is that there are layers of questions that arise from difficult situations, and many human resources professionals simply are unprepared or are offered little guidance about how to handle FMLA-related matters. In the end, managers are responsible and liable if they violate employees’ rights.
FMLA requirements apply to companies with 50 or more employees, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and all public agencies. Employers are required to allow any eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
An employee is considered an eligible employee for FMLA leave if they worked for the employer for at least 12 months and accrued at least 1,250 hours worked in those past 12 months.
While the law seems simple, FMLA can be difficult for management to administer and apply appropriately. Even well-intentioned managers can be confused by the vague and burdensome regulations.
One of the most common ways managers may create liability for the business as it relates to FMLA protections is by asking too many questions. For example, if a manager needs more information regarding a medical condition that is the basis for an FMLA leave request, they must tread a careful line between requesting enough information to process a request, while not violating the privacy of an employee.
Other situations that can be difficult for a manager to navigate involve employees who are abusing the FMLA laws, and essentially turning a full-time position into a part-time position by simply requesting extensive and intermittent FMLA leave throughout the year.
Managers who have the best of intentions to follow the FMLA laws can find it difficult to navigate these litigious waters. When it doubt, employers should seek counsel from an experienced FMLA attorney for advice on how to handle an FMLA request or deal with an employee they believe may be abusing the system.
The Family Medical Leave Act was created for employees to protect and care for their health, and the health of their families. If you feel that you are either being denied rights under the FMLA, or you are an employer attempting to follow the FMLA but finding it too legally complex, contact the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak at 415-263-9015 or 415-693-0393 or online today.