What should HR Professionals know about FMLA policy?
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), applicable to all public agencies and certain private sectors, federally determines that employees who meet certain qualifications are considered eligible for up to 12 unpaid workweeks of absence from their place of employment.
Under FMLA regulations, the unpaid workweeks do carry any risk of the employee’s termination so long as all terms and conditions are complied with. FMLA policy states that unpaid workweeks may be provided, unless explicitly merited by serious exigencies, only under the strictly outlined conditions.
Objective classifications of FMLA leave categories
In order to help agencies more easily remain within FMLA policy compliance, HR professionals should make a point to gain thorough understanding of the various different categories of FMLA leave. Different causes behind employees’ various FMLA requests will require slightly different methods of management.
To qualify for FLMA medical leave, the employee themselves must have a serious medical condition or disability requiring medical treatment that interferes with their usual flow of work. The employer may elect to request additional medical certification to confirm the veracity of the employee’s claims. Medical leave may also be granted in the event that the employee has recently given birth and requires time to recuperate.
In order to verify the severity of conditions that the employee proposes are reason enough for FMLA leave, the employer may elect to request additional verification from the employee’s primary medical care provider. After receiving the first piece of verification, the employer may go on to request a second or third piece of verification from University-accredited professionals or employees in the medical field.
Personal leave may be granted when an employee must care for an immediate family member who suffers from an impairment or disability that has rendered them incapable of self care. Immediate family members who have suffered from military service-related injuries or illnesses may qualify an employee for Service Member Family leave.
Much like Medical leave, an employee may be asked to substantiate their claim with a piece of medical certification that verifies the existence of a serious debilitating condition and the need for them to provide care for the affected person(s). Personal leave may also be granted if employee must care for and/or bond with a newly born child, recently adopted child, or a newly placed foster child. FMLA policy states that unpaid leave granted for birth and bonding is at the employer’s discretion.
Instead of taking several consecutive weeks away from work, an employee may be allowed to disperse the usage of their unpaid FLMA workweek hours in a manner that merely constitutes an altered weekly schedule. Only under certain conditions may an employee be allowed to segment their unpaid hours, and FMLA policy grants the employer the ability to either approve or decline requests for FMLA intermittent leave.
Employees that FMLA policy applies to
Only employees who have logged in active hours that constitute as much as or more than 50% of their time schedule, at least one calendar year or longer before the proposed start of the leave, may be granted FMLA hours.
An employee is not considered eligible for Medical Leave or for Personal Leave to care for an affected immediate family member until the serious medical condition has directly resulted in three successive business days of being unable to attend work.
HR professionals should make a point to take note of whether or not an employee gives proper notice to request any FMLA leave that may occur in the future. FMLA policy states than an employee must notify their employer at least 30 days in advance of possible circumstances that might lead to cause for FMLA leave. Employees may give more than 30 days notice if they elect to do so.
Unpaid leave time allotment
Employers, employees, and human resource professionals alike have occasionally encountered difficulty in adhering to every subtle FMLA policy guideline. Across all of the various contingencies that may complicate FMLA administration, the guidelines for the sum of allotted unpaid leave time are universal to every different FMLA request.
The final sum of time provided to the employee to register as job-protected unpaid work hours, intermittent or otherwise, must not exceed 12 weeks out of the calendar year. The only condition under which more than 12 weeks of unpaid work time may be allotted is when Personal Leave is being applied to military servicemen with an injury or illness acquired while on active duty. During leave for the care of a service member, up to 26 weeks may be allowed.
Maternal necessity for absence
Human resource professionals should take note of the fact that female employees on Medical FMLA leave due to pregnancy, giving birth, or caring for the newborns are permitted to apply sick leave to the first 8 out 12 unpaid work weeks. In the event that said female employee uses all of their sick leave hours before the permitted 8 weeks have elapsed, they may also use any available hours that would be applicable to personal leave, vacation leave, or various other types of leave.
In the final four weeks that do not fall within the 8 weeks that apply to female employees on leave for maternal reasons, it is necessary for said employee to use alternative forms of leave time. If the maternal employee or her child has become medically impaired, the employee can provide medical forms from an accredited health care provider that demonstrate a significant need for sick leave to be applied.
At the point in time in which all alternative forms of leave have been used, including sick leave, the the remainder of the 12 weeks of FMLA leave must be classified as unpaid.
HR Software for FMLA policy compliance management
Human resource professionals can monitor proper FMLA regulation compliance more accurately with the use of modern HR management software. Specialized FMLA software provides HR professionals with the following advantages:
- Keeping track of job applications
- Recording inventory details
- Storing all contract details for future reference
- Serving as an immediately accessible source for compensation records, performance appraisals and more