FMLA Needs in the Hospitality Business

The Family and Medical Leave Act (1993), is an act which must be observed by all covered employers. Covered employers are those which employ 50 or more employees, public agencies as well as any private or public elementary or secondary schools. The hospitality business is just one example of an industry that must adhere to FMLA if they are to be considered eligible for coverage under the criteria of that legislation.

The Family and Medical Leave act is in place to allow employees to take any necessary leave from their work role for various family or medical reasons. Their leave is unpaid, but job protected, meaning they will not be penalized on their return to work and that their work role will remain open for them. They are also assured that a continuation of group health insurance will be in place under the same terms as if the employee had not taken their leave. Family leave cannot impact any employment benefit that the employee has accrued prior to them taking leave.

Employees are eligible for up to twelve weeks of leave within a twelve month period. They must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months or have at least 1250 hours of service within the 12 months prior to them requiring leave. Some common examples of eligible reasons for leave include the birth of a child and caregiver responsibilities for a child under one years of age, or adoption of a child and caregiver responsibilities for the child within the first year of the child’ placement. Other eligible criteria include care of a parent, child or spouse due to serious or chronic health conditions and an employee’s own health condition, where the condition is serious enough to prevent them from carrying out their work related duties. Employees who are members of a military family and who work for covered employers are eligible for military family leave. Rules for employees who are part of military families vary slightly from the FMLA. Qualifying events for military families may include deployment of a family member, taking care of an injured or seriously ill service member or veteran and the employee may take up to 26 workweeks of unpaid leave within a single 12 month period.

Where possible, employees must give notice (30 days), although it is acknowledged that this may not always be possible. In this case, the employee must work with the employer to provide as much information regarding their situation and required leave as possible. This is to avoid disruption to the employer. Employers have the responsibility to inform employees of their eligibility for FMLA or reasons for ineligibility.

It is unlawful for employers to deny employees their right to take family and medical leave if they are eligible, or to discriminate or discharge employees who have exercised the right to take FMLA, in which case employees may file a complaint with the US Department of Labor.

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