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Compliance with the FMLA

Published on August 9th, 2013 by Triton Benefits & HR Solutions

HR departments are responsible for ensuring that companies are compliant with various federal mandates, including the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law was enacted to ensure that workers can take necessary time off when extenuating circumstances arise without hurting their employment or losing access to their business' group health insurance coverage. 

The federal mandate has complicated standards and regulations that HR representatives to need understand. Below is a detailed examination of the FMLA's various provisions and what they mean for employers. 

Why employees can take protect leave
The U.S. Department of Labor explains that there are five primary reasons that employees can take 12 weeks of protected leave: the birth of a child, the adoption or fostering of a child, caring for an ill family member, serious health issues and any emergencies involving family members who are on active military duty. 

Further, workers are afforded 26 weeks of protected absences to care for family members who were injured while on military duty. This is referred to as "military caregiver leave."

When workers qualify for FMLA protection
Not all employees quality for FMLA protection. The DOL notes that someone must be employed by a company with a staff of 50 persons or more for at least 12 months. Additionally, contributors must work at least 1,250 hours during the year leading up to their protected absences. Finally, staff members must work within 75 miles of their employer's location.

In order to comply with these provisions, HR departments should use time and attendance tracking software. This will ensure that HR representatives can carefully monitor employees attendance and count their hours. Ultimately, this may be the best solution to ensure whether staff members have worked the necessary 1,250 hours in order to qualify for FMLA leave. 

Compensation and benefits
FMLA leave is unpaid so employers are not responsible for distributing compensation as long as workers are out. The act also requires companies to continue offering health coverage to employees while they are on leave. Because many FMLA-protected reasons involve health care, this provision is to ensure that staff members have access to their insurance. 

Notification
Employees are responsible for notifying their businesses about FMLA leave. The DOL states that workers must give employers notice at least 30 days notice for known circumstances. In unforeseen cases, staff members must serve their notices as soon as possible. Professionals must also submit all pertinent information that would allow companies to decide whether the FMLA protects the requested absences.

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