FMLA Needs in Fitness Centers
There are many variances in the laws and definitions used within the Family and Medical Leave Act between states and even industries. Companies such as fitness centers, should be familiar with the FMLA and how it apples to their particular industry. Noncompliance can lead to serious repercussions, particularly for employers who discriminate or attempt to dissuade employees from exercising their right to family and medical leave. There are other obligations an employer must meet, including displaying the family and medical leave poster on their premise, even for employers who do not have eligible employees.
A covered employee is one who works for a public or private company which employs 50 or more employees, or employs 50 employees across several locations within a 75 mile radius of each other. Employees must have also been employed for twelve months prior to requesting leave or worked at least 1,250 hours within the 12 months prior to requesting leave. Employees are eligible for 12 weeks, which can be taken altogether or intermittently throughout the year. Qualifying reasons for applying for leave include a serious health condition of the employee, their spouse, parent or child, birth, adoption or placements of a child through foster care within the employee’s home. Military families are additionally eligible to take leave if their spouse, parent, son or daughter is a military member on active duty and due to be deployed, or if they have been injured or become ill incurred in the line of duty. In this case employees are eligible to 26 weeks of leave to care for their family member.
It is important for employers to become familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act, particularly the definitions of what constitutes a serious health condition, incapacity, treatment, and what it means “to care” for a family member. Similarly definitions of son, daughter, parent, and next of kin must be understood. During the employee’s leave, an employee can be temporarily transferred to an alternative position which may better accommodate both employee and employer, particularly if this is intermittent leave. Employers are not allowed to force an employee to take more time off than they need. Employees are not required to provide detail such as a medical diagnosis to their employer, although they must work with the employer to provide as much notice as possible to avoid undue disruption, defined as 30 days or “as soon as practicable.” Employees are required to provide signed medical certification where applicable from a health care provider. There are also several steps required during the process which entail that both the employer and employee meet certain responsibilities.
To ensure compliance, many companies are choosing to use specialized software to administer their FMLA. These record all employee hours to determine eligibility should a request be made, provides draft letters and documentation required during the process, collates all information such as medical documentation into one place. Many software programs also provide monthly updates of any changes to the FMLA, ensuring companies are working with the current family and medical leave requirements.