HR Resource
January 11, 2013 — 2,820 views  
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FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act) is an often litigated and complex piece of legislation that organizations should follow for childcare, medical, and family leave. FMLA sanctions employees to take unpaid and job-protected leaves for specific medical and family reasons. This includes health insurance as well. Under this leave, employees will be entitled to 12 workweeks leave.

Employees can take leave when they give birth to a child and have to take care of their newborn child that is less than a year old. Leave can be taken if the employee plans to adopt or offer foster care for newly positioned child within a year after it is adopted. FMLA leave can be taken by the employee to take care of his or her spouse, parent, or child with a severe health condition.

Leave can be taken even during serious health conditions that do not allow employees to perform the important functions for their job. FMLA even provides employees with 26 workweeks of leave to take care of son, daughter, spouse, and parent in case of a very severe injury. There are certain common mistakes that you can avoid while administering FMLA leave.

Failure to Identify the Leave Request as FMLA

Whenever you get a leave request from your employees, which can be qualified as FMLA, it should be assessed properly. Though this sounds very straightforward, the most confusing aspect is that the employees do not have to request or mention FMLA specifically. They can also choose to ask for different kinds of employee leave. However, it is completely the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they assess the leave request for FMLA correctly. This can get difficult while dealing with STD (Short Term Disability) as most of the firms have different intake processes when it comes to STD and FMLA. Usually, STD request should be assessed for FMLA.

Failure to Meet the Notice Requirements

Each employee requesting FMLA leave should get their request assessed completely. They should also be aware of their responsibilities and rights. Regardless of whether you will approve the employee leave or not, you will have a maximum of five days to reply to the request. If the employee is not eligible to take the leave, you should give him the reason for cancelling the leave. If the employee is eligible for the leave, you should tell him to provide the required additional documents.

Offering Extra FMLA Benefits

This mistake might take various forms and when employers try to go out of their way to do something for their employees’ family, it can be costly. Moreover, employers should not offer FMLA-like benefits and call them FMLA. When you do this, you might have to face too many legal challenges. Once employees start taking their leaves or get back to work after their leave termination, it is essential that employers are very cautious about whatever they tell and act towards their employees. Some employees might take offense and feel that you are intruding their privacy. So, you should be very careful about your communication with your employees.

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