FMLA – What Employers Need to Know

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 is important to employees and employers alike since it not only provides employees the right to unpaid leave for family related medical issues, but also because it can provide serious fines and lawsuits to employers who fail to abide by its laws. But the FMLA isn't designed with the intent of punishing employers or to make their lives difficult. Understanding the basic laws of the FMLA is enough to ensure that your business stays on the right side of it for the most part. But as your company grows, managing FMLA can get tougher. Unicorn HRO can provide software solutions that allow you to efficiently manage FMLA regulations within your workplace. The software helps, but as mentioned there are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to fully adhere to the FMLA.

First of all, any employer needs to understand just whether or not the FMLA even applies to their company and, if so, which of their employees FMLA laws protect. This is a simple matter to understand and one that all comes down to numbers. Basically, if your business employs fifty or more workers full time then you must abide by FMLA laws. But these laws only protect employees that have worked for your company for at least twelve months in a full time position. Other employees aren't protected by FMLA rules.

Once you determine that you need to abide by the FMLA rules, you'll need to understand the basics behind them. Simply put, any qualifying employee is allowed by the FMLA to take leave for the birth of a child or to provide medical care for themselves, their spouse, their children, or their biological parents. Employers aren't allowed to terminate employees taking FMLA protected leave, nor can they demote their pay or position or cancel their benefits. FMLA leave is unpaid and up to twelve weeks are allowed in each twelve month period.

It's also good for employers to know some other overlooked rules of the FMLA. For starters, employees who can plan out their need for FMLA leave such as for the birth of a child or caring for a parent after surgery must provide notice to their employer at least thirty days prior to the leave. And if an employee requests leave but actually isn't entitled to it under the FMLA, you have two days to give them written notification of this fact. Employers can also request medical certification proving that the FMLA leave is actually needed since many health related issues like common colds, headaches, and other issues don't qualify for FMLA leave.

Under the FMLA employers are also allowed to check in with employees on leave to inquire about their intent to return to work. You also must post notice that covers the laws of the FMLA in a place that your employees can see it. And finally, employers who employ spouses do not have to provide twelve weeks of leave for the birth of a child to each spouse. In these cases the twelve weeks must be shared by both parents. It's important to understand FMLA laws and to manage any FMLA information carefully since violation can seriously affect your business.

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