sick person in bedThe FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) has been a blessing to so many employees and their families in times of illness, pregnancy or injury. But for employers and managers, the FMLA can quickly become a tangle of confusing regulations, paperwork and tracking. Mastering the details of the Act takes a commitment to training and staying up to date on changes and legal clarifications of the law’s intent. It’s information Human Resource departments need to master in detail.

But even if the HR folks are handling the day-to-day FMLA administration, there are some basics every manager and supervisor needs to know to keep their organization in compliance with FMLA guidelines. And if your company doesn’t have an HR department, it’s critical that every manager and supervisor understands at least the basics. Here are ten key points no business can afford to miss.

  • The FMLA applies to all private businesses that employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks a year. The employees do NOT have to be full-time employees to mandate a company’s FMLA participation.
  • A covered employee is anyone who has worked for the company for at least 12 months, and who has worked at least 1,250 hours in those 12 months (that comes out to about 24 hours a week).
  • Granting FMLA leave cannot be denied or limited for a covered and eligible employee for a covered event.
  • FMLA mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or a new foster care placement with the employee. No pregnancy or pregnancy complications are required.
  • FMLA also mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a sick or injured employee or to care for an immediate family member who is sick or injured.
  • The 12 weeks of leave does not have to be taken at once. An employee can utilize the total hours covered by 12 weeks of leave to work an intermittent or reduced schedule. If such leave significantly interferes with an employer’s business, the employee may be temporarily assigned to a different job until the leave period expires.
  • An employer can require or an employee can choose to use available paid leave for all or part of the FMLA leave period.
  • An employer must continue to pay their portion of any group health insurance policies during FMLA. The employee is still responsible for their portion if any.
  • An employee taking FMLA leave must be restored to their original job or one “nearly identical” after returning from leave. There is a “key” employee exception to this policy, but that only applies to a handful of positions nationwide.
  • Military families are entitled to FMLA for additional reasons, including up to 12 weeks preceding and immediately following the impending deployment of an immediate family members to an overseas assignment. Those caring for an injured or seriously ill military family member are entitled to 16 weeks of FLMA leave, with all the protections afforded civilian FMLA leave employees.

Violating the FMLA guidelines can result in costly fines and penalties, so providing clear, complete and on-going training to managers is important for your organization’s future. Is your business FMLA compliant?